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PRICE ONE PENNY.
UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE COMMITTEE OF GENERAL LITERATURE AND EDUCATION
APPOINTED BY THE SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE.
SKETCHES OF THE HIGHLANDS AND ISLANDS OF SCOTLAND
PART THE FIFTH.
SHIANT ISLES; LEWIS; LÓCHS.
LOCH TUA; GRACE, CAVES; LOCH BERNERA; CALERNISH; (A. D. 1827. Sept.)
STONE CIRCLES. The southern and western sides of the Shiant Islands To the inorth of Stornaway are some natural phenomena exhibit little of the basaltic formation. The perfect stillness well worth visiting. We proceeded to these along the of the water afforded us a good opportunity of witnessing shore of Loch Tua or Broad Bay, on the north side of the the mode in which the Soland goose, the albatross of the Aird, a safe roadstead for shipping, to the farm-house of northern seas, drops for fish. Towering to a great height, Grace, which has been occupied by the present tenant and the bird folds its wings, and descends, head-foremost, with his ancestors for 200 years. A neighbouring creek presents prodigious velocity into the water, which resounds as if a an extraordinary natural wall of rock of little breadth, large stone had fallen into it, and recovers its smoothness seemingly of artificial construction, emerging from a bed of before the bird re-appears, usually bringing a fish in its plum-pudding stone, the material of which the coast is beak. The Soland goose destroys a great quantity of chiefly composed, and disappearing in the sea.
The herrings. The head, neck, and shoulders of this bird are existence of a corresponding stratification on the opposite exceedingly tough and strong; so much so as to resist all coast of Scotland, of which I was assured, would indicate small shot, but slugs or swan. The cormorant is equally its extension to a distance of at least forty miles. The thick-skinned, and extremely full of blood, of which the other wonders of this part of the coast are two caves, the natives of the Hebrides are said to make a soup, somewhat larger of which, being accessible only at the spring ebb, we resembling hare-soup, the standard dish of the eastern coast could not enter. The smaller is deep, lofty, and spacious : of Scotland, little known on the western, on account of the we appeared to each other but pigmies, standing at opposite rarity of hares. It is remarkable that hares were unknown extremities of it. Its sides are incrusted with stalactical on the western coast of Scotland, till their migration to it frost-work of variegated colours, in some places assuming, was facilitated by the military roads. The cormorant is as in the cave of Strath Aird, the columnar form. The said to have been anciently used in Scotland as a whet to other is said to be superior to this, not only in size, but in the appetite before dinner. The young of the kittywake the splendour of its sparry decorations. These caves still gull was eaten for the same purpose.
afford a retreat to seals and sea-outers; but the number of We met, on returning to the coast, a large wherry pro- these animals has been greatly diminished by the unreceeding to the islands, to convey the shepherd and his lenting warfare waged against them. family away after the harvest. No one can be prevailed To the northward of Grace the coast becomes bolder, and on to reside there. A former shepherd lost his wife, a son, 1 terminates in the long and narrow pr tory of Tolsta and daughter, at different times, by their falling over Head. Near this point are an old tower, the scene of a precipices.
traditionary tale; and a cairn, the tomb of a Norwegian Tonching at Loch Brolum, we coasted Lewis, to Loch princess. The hills in this neighbourhood yield deer. Shiell, and proceeded to the inn, a neat slated house. To Lewis, Sky, and Jura, are the only three Scottish islands our dismay, as we had consumed our original stock of in which these animals are still found. Dr. Clarke informs provisions, we found, save a bowl of excessively sour milk, us that they were extirpated in Rum by the eagles, some the negative catalogue complete. We were assured, more years before his visit. They existed in Mull at the time of over, that not even oat-cake could be procured in any of the the statistical survey. The destruction of the copse which cottages in the neighbourhood: and that as to whisky, it supplied cover to the fawns, is assigned as one cause of was not to be found in the whole country. The latter state their disappearance. ment was very questionable. The boatmen, to whom we The western coast of Lewis is deeply indented by Loch had promised whisky, expressed no disappointment at not Bernera. The rocky shores and surface of this arm of the meeting with it, doubtless well prepared for the denial, sea, sprinkled with numerous groups of islands, appear in and returned without a murmur to Valamis. We had long and picturesque perspective, whilst the hills of the before us a walk of several hours; and it was already southern district of Lewis finely bound the spreading evening. A guide offered his services, professing know- | branches of the bay. Near its shore are some interesting ledge of the track: but as we advanced he became be- monuments, of the kind commonly called Druidical: the wildered by the multitude of lakes and the multifarious remains of three stone circles. The principal, and by far gleaming of the water, which at first served to direct his the most perfect of them, one of the most remarkable in course, and at length was brought to a stand-still, by an form and extent in the British Isles, stands on the brow of arm of the sea, along the rugged shore of which he led us a promontory overhanging the bay, striking the eye at a scrambling on, till we stumbled upon a cottage half buried considerable distance, like a cemetery of thickly-clustered in the ground, when he discovered where he was. The tomb-stones. It has been visited by Martin and Macculloch. inmate, being summoned, instantly sprung from his bed, To the latter we are indebted for the following description satisfied our craving appetite with a bowl of delicious milk, of it. launched a boat, and conveyed us across Loch Eisort amidst “The general aspect of this structure is that of a cross, a blaze of phosphoric light. A single light on the oppo- nearly of the proportions of the Roman crucifix, with a site shore served as our beacon, and comforted us with the circle at the intersection. But a nearer inspection discovers assurance, that though the time had advanced an hour more than is essential to that form. The largest line lies beyond midnight, some one was yet watching in the in a direction of about twenty-four degrees west of the true manse of our old friend, the Minister of Lochs. On our meridian, or pretty nearly in that of the magnetic variation arrival, we found his daughter prepared to receive us, and a at present, which is therefore the general bearing of the table laden with viands, the ample remnants of a supper, work. Great stones intermixed with some that have fallen, of which some Irish gentlemen, who had been fishing in and with blank spaces whence they may have been removed, the neighbourhood, had already partaken, and which were or where more probably they are covered by the soil, are reserved in the event of our coming; for the arrival of a found along this line for the space of 588 feet, including guest, in Scotland, is welcome at any hour. The mi- the circle; their number amounting to fourteen, and eleven nister met us at breakfast next morning, and expressed of them being still erect. If we were allowed to fill up the great indignation at the reception which we experienced at blanks according to the general proportions of the intervals Loch Shiell.
between those that remain, the number would be twenty
within that distance. But following the direction of this composed, are arranged in the shape of a vessel, some of line further on, there are indications of other stones, all of them representing the position of the masts ;-—indicating them fallen, and nearly covered by earth and vegetation, the burial-place of a celebrated pirate. that would justify us in extending it ninety fect, or more, That the remains in Scotland were of Scandinavian further, thus making the total length about 680 feet. origin, there can be little doubt, the probability being Parallel to the long leg of the cross, and to that only, is heightened by the circumstance of their being found another line, now far less perfect than the first, since it chietly on the coasts and islands which were most frecontains only three erect and seven fallen stones, and quented by the Danes and Norwegians. Pennant took reaches, as far as I could discover, only to 480 feet. Thus for granted that they were Druidical, and under the these two lines may be conceived to form a sort of avenue influence of this prepossession, found in the immediate to the circular enclosure; its breadth being exactly equal vicinity of one which he examined on the mainto a semi-diameter of the circle, as the additional line land, the residence of the Arch-Druid. "The Druids touches the edge of this. The shorter line of the cross, at undoubtedly possessed Iona, before the introduction of right angles to the other, now measures 204 feet, including Christianity. A green eminence close to the Sound of the circle: but as it is longer on one side than the other, its Iona, is to this day called the Druids' burial-place*. A original length has probably been greater, though I was cottager, some years ago, planting potatoes in this spot, and unable to detect any traces of fallen stones; the progress digging earth to cover them, brought up some bones which of some enclosures having here interfered with the integrity the people of the island immediately concluded to be the of the work. This line contains ten erect stones. The bones of the Druids: the tradition is, that the first Christians diameter of the circle is sixty-three feet from north to south, banished the Druids, and took possession of their seat. and sixty-two from east to west, and it contains fourteen The Druids also had a temple on the head of Loch Swidain erect stones in the circumference, with one in the centre. in a farm called Rossal. The temple is but small, and This central stone is twelve feet high; one near the end of several of the stones have fallen down. Here, as the name the long line measures thirteen, a few are found reaching of the place indicates, they held courts of justice."—Statisto seven or eight, but the height of the greater number tical Survey. does not exceed four.
Borlase and others attribute the famous rocking-stone The intervals between the stones vary from two to ten in Cornwall to the mechanical skill of the same sages; and yards, but the larger ones are probably the consequence discover in the granite blocks, of which a hill near Penzance of the loss of those which once occupied these places. consists, their instruments of worship and magic. As well I ought to add that the total number of stones which I might the construction of the Land's End, which is composed could discover, either erect or recently fallen, is forty-eight; of similar materials, and put together in a similar fashion, and that if the whole rank were complete, as it appears be ascribed to them. The Druids may possibly have erected originally to have been built, they would amount to sixty- some of the remains in Britain, and in France: the existence five or sixty-six." My measurements did not entirely of such monuments in the latter country, though most of coincide with those here stated : but on the whole they are them have been probably destroyed, being proved by the doubtless accurate. The recent removal of the peat-moss, large one still standing near Quiberon Bay, and another in which the stones are half buried, from the sides of one of near Orléans. The most perfect extant was perhaps that them, exhibits not only the surprising growth of this discovered in Jersey, which is now preserved at Park Place, vegetable production, on a height where it could not receive near Henley-upon-Thames, having been presented by the any alluvial contributions, or deposit of extraneous decayed inhabitants of that island to Marshal Cornway, the vegetable matter, but also the method employed by the governor. rude architects, who erected them, to fix them on those The improbability of the Druids having built in countries bases on which they have remained unmoved for centuries. where they cannot be supposed to have existed, needs The stone is inserted in a hole, filled up with small loose not the refutation implied in an improbability of an oppofragments of the same material. The elevation of the site import, that they should not adopt the rude style of stones of the central circle must have amounted to thirty architecture common in the age in which they lived. It is feet above the ground. Where exposed to view, the possible that Stonehenge may have been raised by the substance is as white as a bleached bone, contrasting Druids, whilst the similar remains in Scotland must be singularly with the "gray" hue produced by the atmo- referred to architects of later date, and less dubious sphere.
celebrity. Dr. Macculloch opposes the exclusive claims of The fanciful conjecture of Toland respecting this struc- the Druids with his usual ability ture, which I bave read detailed in an Encyclopædia, is ridiculed by Dr. Macculloch. The circular or oval form of these
• Claodh nan Druineach signifies the Druids' burial-place. edifices was selected, no doubt, as best adapted to the purpose for which they were erected, and not with reference to the signs of the zodiac, as the number of stones in the circle varies indefinitely. The extensive appendage to the circle at Calernish, which distinguishes it from other circles, consists of the four avenues of stones directed towards it, from the four principal points of the compass, and is also so simply constructed that its origin may be accounted for without imputing to the architect an astronomical design exhibited in no other structure of the same kind. The other two circles in the neighbourhood are composed of much smaller stones; one is incomplete, the other has a double row still standing, and arranged in an oral form. The people have no tradition respecting them.
Doubtless, while the world lasts, Stonehenge and all similar remains of antiquity will be commonly attributed to the Druids. Yet they are found in countries, such as the Scandinavian, and in Scotland, where it does not appear that the Druids were known. of the Druids, we have no information except from the Roman writers, who state that their chief seats were in Gaul and Great Britain, and that they worshipped exclusively in groves. The monuments of antiquity miscalled Druidical, were clearly constructed for all public purposes, whether legislative, judicial, festal, or sepulchral; and consequently vary much in form and dimensions. A copious account of those existing in Sweden, illustrated by numerous engravings, has been published at Stockholm, by M. Siöborg, the principal antiquary of that country, but unfortunately in his native language, which is little known beyond his own country. One of those described by him is remarkable, as the stones of which it is
LEWIS; STORNAWAY; FUNERALS.
were as usual accompanied with appropriate speeches.
The presence of several ministers, and one acting as DURING my stay at Stornaway, I received an invitation to chairman, no doubt tended to preserve a certain degree of attend the funeral of a wealthy old lady, who had made sobriety in the midst of revelry and merriment, inseparable numerous and liberal bequests. She was sister of Colonel from such a meeting, as the occasion would be necessarily Colin Mackenzie, who long held with considerable reputa- speedily forgotten by the greater part present. But at tion the office of Surveyor General of India. Immediately length the chord was touched, to which the bosoms of the after the decease of this lady, a cask of Madeira was Islanders responded, amidst the flow of wine and whisky, opened in her house, a wake had been kept up, and the with resistless accordance. “The chief of the Macirers" house nightly illuminated according to the custom of the was proposed amidst loud applause. The guests became country. The chief-mourner, who arrived in an open boat now quite tumultuous, and the Rev. Chairman immediately from the main-land, was a minister, and the funeral was rose up and left the tent, accompanied by nearly all the attended by all the principal inhabitants of Stornaway, party. The expectation of the gleanings of so plenteous Our party from the lodge arrived too late at the house of a repast had attracted to the spot a multitude of people of the deceased to partake of the preliminary refreshments, all ages, who thronged around and closed in upon the tent, but we overtook the procession on the road to the ancient eager for the signal for rushing in upon the remains of cemetery of Stornaway, which is situated on the beach of the feast. A man was constantly employed in walking round Broad Bay, about four miles from the town. Another the tent, armed with a long whip, with which he inflicted burial-place used by the people of Stornaway, near the perpetual, but almost fruitless, chastisement on intruders. town, has been so encroached upon by the ravages of the A few of the guests, who had not heeded the example of sea, that the bodies will probably soon be consigned to a the chairman, continual long carousing, and one of them watery grave.
was brought to Stornaway on the bier which conveyed the An old chapel, the larger half of which is unroofed, body to the grave. A Highland laird, to whom I afterwards stands in the cemetery. Beneath a flagstone on the pave mentioned the circumstance, observed that he was “a very ment, undistinguished by any inscription, lies the body of lucky fellow to get so good a berth.” The festivities were, the last Earl of Seaforth, who forfeited his title in conse however, attended with much less excess and confusion quence of his participation in the rebellion of 1715, and than occur frequently on such occasions. Such disorderly lived and died afterwards in a species of exile in Stornaway. proceedings are happily growing into disuse, and the The loyalty of succeeding generations has purged the beneficial example afforded more recently at the funerals attainder which attached to the rebellious ancestors of of the celebrated Glengarry and the late Duke of Gordon, many of the noble families of Scotland, and the restora- | has tended to accelerate the reform. tion of the forfeited titles must be regarded with un While on this topic, I may mention the following circummingled satisfaction.. But great difficulties must embarrass stances which occurred at the cemetery of Assynt, whica the exertion of the royal prerogative, arising from the sepa were narrated to me by a gentleman present. The habitaration of the hereditary estates from the line upon which tion of the deceased was distant from the place of interthe title would now devolve, the difficulty of preserving ment. The body was borne on men's shoulders during the descent, the existence of collateral heirs alone, and part of the journey, and then conveyed in a boat over the other perplexing circumstances. There are other monu lake. The bearers became so drunk by frequent recourse ments of the Mackenzies of Seaforth, some of which bear to the whisky, that at length there was scarcely found a the family crest, the stag's horns, assumed by an ancestor sufficient number of persons sober enough to deposit the who saved the life of Malcolm king of Scotland, whilst coffin in the boat, many of the attendants being drunk hunting, from the attack of a stag, an achievement which when they left the house of the deceased. When they forms the subject of one of West's finest paintings. The reached the shore, the body was forgotten, and a detachunroofed part of the chapel contains the tombs of nineteen ment was sent in quest of it, after a numerous muster had of the Macleods, the ancient proprietors of the island: a been made in the churchyard, and the cause of the delay warrior in armour is represented upon one of them in which prevented the last act of the ceremony was ascerbasso-relievo. The graves of the principal families are tained." But the collection of a multitude of fiery spirits, enclosed by four walls forming a sort of mausoleum. That heated by intoxicating liquors, was attended by its probable of the lady whose obsequies we were celebrating, contains consequences. The sexton happened to cast up, whilst a marble monument to the memory of Colonel Colin digging the grave, a large thigh bone, which proved in Mackenzie, bearing a highly panegyrical inscription. very deed a bone of contention. On the northern shore of Stornaway, in which town he filled the office of Inspector Loch Assynt, contiguous to each other, stood an old castle of the Customs, is proud of his fame. The Duke of and a mansion-house, in which resided formerly two famiWellington is reported at Stornaway to have said at Ba lies, Mackenzies and Macdonalds, between whom a violent dajoz, when some difficulties obstructed the progress of feud subsisted. The bone was of such large size that the the siege, “ Oh, that old Mackenzie were here !"
Mackenzies claimed it as having belonged to one of their In Scotland, the funeral ceremony is celebrated without race, a man of gigantic stature. This point was, however, any religious rite. The minister of the parish attends disputed by the other party, and a desperate fight ensued. only when invited, and not officially. He sometimes em- My informant, who was a boy, took refuge inside the church braces the solemn opportunity of offering up a prayer to avoid the fray of the combatants, and surveyed the among the assembled mourners at the house of the battle from the window. But he had reason to rue the deceased, previous to the departure of the procession, choice which he had made of his asylum, for some wag though he may not accompany it. On the present occa locked the door and carried off the key, and he spent the sion, as soon as we reached the cemetery, the coffin was night in his prison. deposited in the grave with all possible decency, and the At the more recent funeral of a distinguished officer, a whole body of mourners instantly adjourned to a tent large body of Highlanders assembled. A man of the pitched in the cemetery, within a few yards of the mau- country, pointing out to me the place of interment, spoke soleum, where we found tables groaning beneath a plentiful of the circumstance with characteristic animation : "Oh repast. As soon as we were all arranged, 120 in number, the sir, it was a grand entertainment, there were five thousand minister, who presided as chief-mourner, delivered a grace Highlanders present: we were very jolly: some did not quit in the form of a prayer; and the minister of the parish the spot till next morning, some not till the day following; offered up another, accompanied by thanksgiving after they lay drinking on the ground: it was like a field of dinner. The bottle was then circulated, and many loyal, batile !" patriotic, and complimentary toasts, including the Church At a late interment in Ross-shire, the mourners engaged of England, and the Kirk of Scotland, followed: nor was in a general row, and the loss of lives was the result, a the memory of the deceased forgotten, whilst the toasts consequence by no means uncommon. Dr. Macculloch See account of this distinguished native of Lewis, Saturday Mag
mentions that it was matter of boasting, that at one funerai Vol. IV., p. 241, and Journal of Royal Asiatic Society, No. 11.
a pipe and a half of whisky had been
drunk. + The estates forfeited after the Rebellion of 1745 were vested in
So inseparably blended in the mind of the Highlanders the Crown, and afterwards unalienably annexed, and the rents and are the funeral and festal preparations, that a worthy profits appropriated to the improvement of the Highlands and pre minister of a small island directed that the cakes and vention of disorders. In 1784 they were restored, on condition of other ingredients of the banquet, sent to him from Campthe grantees paying back the amount of the debt upon them dis- belltown in Argyleshire, should be packed in the coffin charged by government; and the fund thus placed at the disposal of government was dedicated to economical moral and religious purposes
destined for his wife. A gentleman who purchased an in Scotland.-See Report of Commissioners on Forfeited Estates. estate in Inverness-shire, being present at a funeral soon
VIEW OF STÓRNAWAY. after taking possession of it, commended some excellent conduct in the single circumstance of providing a banquet wheaten bread which was served at the entertainment, and on funeral occasions, in conformity to very ancient practice ? asked his host, the son of the lady whose obsequies they “ For the comfort of them whose minds are through were celebrating, whence it came." It was brought with natural affection pensive in such cases, no man," observes the hearse, with my mother's body from Inverness!" was Hooker, “can justly mislike the custom which the Jews the reply. Years elapsed, my informant assured me, had to end their burials with funeral banquets, in reference betore he lost the taste of that wheaten bread.
whereunto the prophet Jeremy spake concerning the The festal celebration does not terminate with the people, whom God had appointed unto a grievous manner funeral, but is sometimes prolonged during weeks. At of destruction, saying, that men should not give them Campbelltown I found a widow-lady, who had buried her the cup of consolation to drink for their father or their husband some weeks before, still keeping open house, mother*,' because it shall not be now with thee as in providing every evening, refreshment for visiters, and ex- peaceable times with others, who bringing their ancestors pecting that all her neighbours, not only those of the town unto the grave with weeping eyes, have, notwithstanding, but of the country, should in turn pay the customary means wherewith to be re-comforted. • Give wine,' saith respects. The expenses incurred on these occasions, are Solomon, unto those that have grief of heart f.'" often, as it may be supposed, very onerous, and among the Ecclesiastical Polity, v. 75. poor often involve families in the severest distress, for they The ancient Scandinavians celebrated the entrance will submit to any sạerifice to secure a decent interment into life with mourning, and the departure out of it with for a relative.
rejoicing.. In Scotland the dance has been disconWhence arises, it may be asked, revelry so utterly at tinued, and the bagpipe is no longer used at funerals. variance with the feelings of awe or sorrow naturally ex- General Stewart says, that the last time a piper officiated cited by death and its solemn accompaniments? It cannot on such an occasion in Perthshire, was in 1736, at the be attributed to the levity of the people, because none are funeral of Rob Roy. But the custom was recently revived accustomed to regard death with more habitual seriousness at that of the late Roman Catholic Bishop of the western than the natives of these regions. The thought or mention district in the island of Lismore, in compliance with his of his inevitable doom is not discarded by the Scottish dying request, in strict conformity with his character, Highlander with affected contempt or inconsiderate levity, which was that of a genuine Highlander. but entertained with becoming solemnity: and particular The illumination of the house immediately after the customs confirm this natural disposition, one of which is decease and the late wake, may be doubtless partly attrithat of the bride considering it to be one
of her first duties buted to the superstitious notion of chasing evil spirits from after marriage, to prepare her winding-sheet for her inter- the corpse. ment. Nor does it proceed from deficiency of relative The funereal banquet in Scotland is now strictly limited attachment, because the Highlanders are strongly actuated to the provision of entertainment for the assembled by this principle; and the very anxiety to provide an en- mourners, whether terminating on the occasion itself, or tertainment suitable to the rank or family of the deceased prolonged for a considerable period, so as to enable all results from its operation. Nay, it is often indulged at persons so disposed to pay their tribute of respect to the expense of personal feeling, as well as considerable the memory of the deceased. The practice unabused is cost
, for the relative merges his own grief in the desire of unobjectionable, nay necessary. The mourners are often bestowing appropriate honour on the deceased; and so far I brought from remote parts, performing laborious journeys, or was this devotion formerly carried, that the nearest of kin encountering winds and waves, to reach the place of interopened the funeral ball on the night after the death. A laird, ment, a spot frequently selected on account of its central to whom I was speaking of the noted attachment borne to situation, or the ancient veneration attached to it, and very a neighbouring landlord by his tenants, observed, " True,
Jeremiah xvi. 7.
+ Proverbs xxxi. 6. but they will, nevertheless, all get drunk at his funeral."
“Puerperia luctu, funeraque festivo cantu concelebrantes."Are we then to seek a cause for such inconsistency of Olaus.