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anecdote, which he has furnished in his own most characteristic style, may be cited to show how easily the most ancient monuments are sometimes appropriated to events comparatively recent, not only by the ignorance of the natives, but by their desire to impose upon the credulity of travellers; and the positive information of those who ought to know the truth is only calculated to mislead us, and to disguise with a mask of history the remains of an unknown age. "In the celebrated field of battle at Killiecrankie, the traveller is struck with one of those rugged pillars of rough stone which indicate the scenes of ancient conflict. A friend of the author, well acquainted with the circumstances of the battle, was standing near this large stone, and looking on the scene around, when a highland shepherd hurried down from the hill to offer his services as cicerone, and proceeded to inform him that Dundee was slain at that stone, which was raised to his memory. "Fie, Donald!" answered my friend, "how can you tell such a story to a stranger? I am sure you know well enough that Dundee was killed at a considerable distance from this place, near the house of Fascally, and that this stone was here long before the battle in 1688." "Oich! Oich!" said Donald no way abashed, "and your honour's in the right, and I see you ken a' about it, and he was na killed on the spot neither, but lived till the next morning. But a' the Saxon gentlemen like best to hear he was killed at the great stane."1 The an

1 Note to the Abbott.

tiquities in which Scott delighted, were local antiquities, and therefore comparatively recent; they were ancient as regards the history of these islands, but not with reference to the history of the world : ' his imagination, therefore, could not go back beyond the heroic age, the age of wars and conflicts; and every monument appeared to him a monument of sanguinary strife. Yet in Ireland, where ancient superstitions are not so easily eradicated, he might have learned that the records of those rugged pillars are the mysteries of a deeper-seated feeling than mere valour can command. A writer, who made it his business to investigate those superstitions, thus relates the answer to one of his enquiries: "When I pressed a very old man to state what advantage he expected to derive from the singular custom of frequenting in particular such wells as were contiguous to an old blasted oak, or an upright unhewn stone, his answer was, that their ancestors always did it; that it was a preservative

1 In Isabel Gowdie's Confession of Witchcraft it is stated that, when they came to the Dounie Hills, the mountain opened to receive them at the entrance ramped and roared the fairy bulls, which were probably, says Scott, the water bulls famous both in Scottish and Irish tradition. - Demonology, 156. But famous though they were, they had no charms for him: the question, why they should be water-bulls, or what these bulls had to do with a mountain, excited no interest in his inquisitive mind. We shall see in the sequel, that the bulls were intimately connected with the mountain, precisely because they were water-bulls. For the present it may suffice to observe that the three objects, which seem to have been brought so incongruously together in this tradition, were really united under one name. For Tauvis is the name of a bull, and of a mountain, and of one of the channels by which the Nile discharges its waters into the sea. — Sol. Polyhist. c. xxxii.

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against Geasa Draoideckt, that is, the sorceries of the Druids.' And so thoroughly persuaded were they of the sanctity of these Pagan practices, that they would travel bareheaded and barefooted from ten to twenty miles for the purpose of crawling on their knees round these wells, and upright stones, and oak-trees, westward as the sun travels, some three times, some six, some nine, and so on, until their voluntary penances were completely fulfilled."

In the progress of this work, it will be shown that certain towers, which have always been covered with a veil of mystery, were, in fact, only more elaborate pillars, and subserved the same purpose as the tall unhewn stone. It is therefore interesting to learn, that, at a place bearing the remarkable name of Bel, or Baal, crowds of people assemble at one season of the year, round one of these towers, and not only perform various ceremonies, which conclude with feasting and dancing, but that they regard the river too with a respect, which is the remains of ancient veneration, and that much of the Pagan worship is retained in their present rites.2 In Scotland, indeed, the veneration of the tower being mingled with the warlike spirit of the people, the custom has been warped to record the conten- . tion of rival sects. In Mid-Lothian it was the custom of the shepherds to raise towers of sods, seven or eight feet high, on Lammas-day. At the bottom, the diameter was about four feet; and at

1 Third Letter on Ireland by Columbanus.
2 Survey of Mayo, p. 130. Miss Beaufort's Essay.

the top, they tapered to a point, so that the shape was something between a pyramid and a cone. This tower was begun a month before, and, during that time, defended with the most jealous care from the attacks of the herds in the adjoining districts. Having preserved their tower inviolate till the afternoon of Lammas-day, they concluded with races and other sports. In another part, however, craggy stones, of the same description as that which Scott saw, exercise the same sacred influence over an adjoining spring. Near Tillee Beltane, in Perthshire, are two groups of upright stones, where, on Beltane morning, superstitious people go to drink of the well, which is still held in great veneration, and then walk in procession round it nine times. But perhaps the most remarkable instance of this sort, as connecting recent usages with the cradle of the postdiluvian race of men, is to be found in another part of the same country. The waters of Strathfillan are situated near what is supposed to be the highest ground in Scotland: thither, at the beginning of summer and harvest, crowds of sick people flock from the remotest parts of Argyleshire and other places, as to a panacea

for every disorder. Three several journeys are necessary: they bathe thrice, and go thrice round some carns at a moderate distance, performing

1 Trans. Soc. Antiq. v. i. 196.

2 Jamieson's Dictionary of the Scottish Language. The Eleusinian women practised a dance about a well, which was called Callichorus ; and their dance was accompanied by songs in honour of Ceres. Clarke's Travels, v. iii. 430.

always the circumvolutions with the course of the sun. Now no one believes, no one at least except the Argyleshire peasantry and their immediate neighbours, that the waters of Strathfillan really possess medicinal virtues sufficient to cure all disorders. It is an opinion not only propagated, but originally devised by superstition; and surely it could be not without design, that so inconvenient a spot was selected for the purpose, as the highest ground in Scotland. If, then, there was a time when the highest ground of the then known globe was an object, if not of worship, yet at least of devout veneration, and an extraordinary efficacy was ascribed to the waters that surrounded it; that is the date which may, with great probability, be assigned to the origin of the Scottish superstition; which will carry us back to the period, when the Armenian mountain was the only land seen above the flood, and the diluvian waters were supposed to have purged the earth of its former guilt and corruption. The carns would represent the lower hills, and the revolutions round them, according to the course of the sun, the great number of days during which the three heads of the human race were kept in durance and in danger; for a superstition, which can only be founded on the same great catastrophe, is still cherished by the Irish branch of the same Celtic race. The inhabitants of the Arran Islands, on the western coast of Ireland, believe, that from time to time they see the shores of a happy island rise

1 Trans. Soc. Ant. in Scotland, p. 79.

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