Page images
PDF
EPUB

to have been deposited, are surrounded by a circular dyke, two hundred feet in circumference, and three feet in height. The military road passes through its centre.

“ That this was in reality the burying-place and the monument of Ossian, is rendered highly probable by many other circumstances, besides immemorial and uniform tradition. The frontier between Caledonia, and that part of Great Britain that was subdued by the Romans, very naturally became the theatre of action and glory to the contending nations. Nor is there any thing more natural than to suppose that Fingal and his warriors might have often fixed their residence in the neighbourhood of those mountains, in order to watch the movements

of the enemy

Many of the ancient Gaelic poems make mention of Ossian having resided upon the water of Bran, which flows in a parallel direction, at the distance of only three or four miles from the Almon, and falls into the Tay near Dunkeld. And, at the head of Glen Turret, which touches on Glen Almon, in the parish of Monivaird, there is a shealing, or summer cottage, called Renna Cardich, or the Smith's sheal, where is to be seen the foundation-stones of houses, and what are said to be large heaps of ashes; and some of the old Gaelic poems of the country inform us, that there was an iron work here, and that the swords and arms for Fingal's army were made at Lochenlour, four miles in the valley below. That the iron was brought from this place, is further confirmed from the peats cast in that part of the country. These burnt in kiln-pots leave a plate of yetlin amongst the ashes, which the country people call adander. A tradition also prevails, that Ossian was proprietor of part of Monivaird, a place that must, in ancient times, have been famous for bards, as that term in Gaelic signifies the Bard's Hill.

“About the middle of Glen-Almon, and about three miles distant from Clach-Ossian, in a glen named Corriviarlich, or the Glen of Thieves, is a cave known by the name of Fian, Fingal's Cave, though afterwards possessed by a race of thieves. The entry to this cave is five feet in height, and four feet in breadth; the road in the middle is about eighteen or twenty feet high, and the length about thirty feet. This cave is overtopped by a high rock or hill; and on the left side of the door or entry, is a large flat stone, which is said to have been drawn by the Fians, or Fingalians, to the mouth of this cave, as a defence from the cold or from wild beasts. Before the cave is a fine green plain, and a high pine tree, three feet in diameter. The glen is proper

for pasture, and may be about one mile long, and two broad.

“There is another high hill or rock, in Glen-Almon, that overtops all the rest, with a proud extended crest, known by the name of Sron na huath Bhidh, or the Nose of the Cave: there is a great hollow under ground, where it is said a giant once resided, wbo entertained a malicious grudge against Fingal, when he dwelt at Fion Theach.

“Great many of the poems, translated by Mr. Macpherson, chiefly relate to Fingal's exploits in Ireland,

and upon the north and west coast of Scotland. The rapid progress which the Saxon language made in the low country, from the days of Malcolm Ceanmore, not only rooted out the Gaelic language in that part of the country, but has also with it, no doubt, occasioned the loss of many of Ossian's poems; there are still, however, fragments in the same translation, where frequent mention is made of Fingal's exploits upon the banks of Carron, in the county of Stirling

“ Beneath the voice of her king, we moved to Crona (a small rivulet which discharged itself into the river Carron,) of the streams, Toscar, or grassy Lutha, and Ossian young in fields. Three bards attended with songs. Three bossy shields were born before us, for we were to rear the stone in memory of the past. By Crona’s mossy course, Fingal had scattered his foes; we had rolled away the strangers

like a troubled sea.”

“Herodian, Dio, and other writers make mention of the Emperor Severus having passed the two walls, and fought in person with the Caledonians and their leader, which very probably may have been Fingal, and perhaps the above poem relates to that part of the history. It cannot, however, be imagined, that Fingal, who at that time, anno 207, was chief of the Caledonians, could have remained inactive, when such a powerful army was at hand: and indeed it appeared that the invasion of Severus had such an effect

upon the Caledonians, that they sent ambassadors to sue for peace, which was rejected. The consequence was, that a bloody engagement commenced, in which

the Caledonians proved victorious, and the emperor returned with the loss of many thousands of men.

“ The Romans again made another effort against the Caledonians, under their leader Caracalla. Fingal met them upon the banks of Carron, where a battle ensued, in which the Romans were again defeated with considerable loss.

“Selma in Morven, which is said to have been Fingal's chief residence, is only about sixty computed miles distant from Glen Almon, and Ossian, Fingal's son, would, no doubt, continue to rouse the army after his father's death, by his martial example and warlike song ; and probably chose to have his residence near the spot where there was the greatest danger: the Roman camp, the forts and tumuli nigh to Clach-Ossian, are evident proofs that this

part

of the country, was the scene of action, so early as the time when the Romans came into this part of the island.

“ Besides what is above related, it may not be improper here to take notice, that it is the opinion of several respectable clergymen and others, in the neighbourhood of Glen Almon, that the stone in question was known by the name of Clach-Ossian, beyond the memory of any living person; and indeed the names of places nigh the spot, will, in some instances, serve as further proofs; upon the other side of the Almon, and not far distant from the camp, is a small village named Fian-Theach, i. e. Fingal's thatch-house, or hall; and at the west end of Loch Fraochy, is a place named Dall-Chillin, or Fingal's burial-place. Whether this was Fingal's burial-place,

or not, shall be left to the determination of the Gaelic critics.

“The many caves which we find in the Highlands, and which to this day, are said to be caves for the giants to reside in, are with them strong proofs for the authority of their fables, whereas it is evident, that those caves were places of safety, in ancient times, when pursued by their enemies, or probably for places of residence, as we find is the case in Iceland, and many other countries even to this period; where the inhabitants live in caves, or dens, under rocks and under ground, which are not only the most proper places for security from their enemies, but are likewise better adapted for their preservation from voracious animals, with which Scotland abounded, at a period so early as the days of Ossian. This country being at that time over-run with woods, afforded shelter to wolves and bears, enemies to the human race, and they had no other place of safety for their residence, but either in their caves, or upon the tops of the hills. Hence it is, that there are few hills in the Highlands, but what have to this day, vestiges of castles and houses; and which, in conformity to the formerly received notion of giants' caves, are called Giants' castles, or the Fians' castles, which may be easily understood to be castles possessed in the Fingalian age, or age of giants, or mighty warriors. I have farther learned, that when Ossian's stone was moved, and the coffin containing his supposed remains discovered, it was intended, by the officer commanding the party of soldiers employed on the military road, to let the bones remain within the

« PreviousContinue »