«* National Library of Scotland ■■jin B000157358*. V POEMS OF OSSIAN, IN THE ORIGINAL GAELIC, WITH A LITERAL TRANSLATION INTO LATIN, BY THE LATE ...»
fortification can now be seen on either of the hills;
the foundations have been dug up for the purpose of erecting houses in the neighbourhood.
There is a tradition, among the lower class of people, that Beregonium was destroyed by fire from heaven. In confirmation of this tradition, it may be mentioned, that a high rock, near the summit of Dun bhail an righ, projecting and overhanging the road, has a volcanic appearance, and a most hideous aspect: huge fragments have tumbled down from it. Adjoining to this place, is a fine, open, spacious bay, with a sandy bottom, capable of containing the whole navy of Great Britain.
It would be endless to enumerate all tbe druidical monuments in this district. Many cairns and heaps of stones are to be seen here ; one in particular, near the centre of a deep moss, about three or four miles in circumference. In different places are stones rising twelve feet above the surface of the earth, all of them one single stone; and at a small distance, a number of large stones from twenty to twenty-two feet in length, of an oval figure.
The common language is the Celtic, the name of all the farms are derived from it, and are in general descriptive of their situations. Loch Etie, which divides Ardchattan from Muckairn and two other parishes, is a navigable inlet of the sea, fifteen computed miles in length, but of unequal breadth. Near its mouth is a narrow channel, not much more than a musket-shot over, at a place called Conned, signifying in the Celtic, rage or fury, which is very descriptive of this place, as a ridge of rugged and uneven vol. nr. mm
530 SUPPLEMENTAL OBSERVATIONS ON THErocks runs across two-thirds of the channel, and occasions at certain periods of the ebbing or flowing tide, such a rapid current, that no vessel, with the freshest breeze, can stem it. In the beginning of the flood, the tide runs up with a boisterous rapidity, and at ebb it returns with a violence and noise unequalled by the loudest cataract. But there is sufficient depth of water, between the ridge of rocks and the land on the west side, for vessels of any size or burden to pass and repass with safety, in the beginning of flood or ebb. There is a ferry here, and notwithstanding its alarming appearance, one of the safest in Scotland, as no accident has happened at it in the remembrance of any man living.
The sides of Loch Etie are pleasant; indented into creeks and bays, affording safe anchorage in any wind whatever; delightfully variegated with hill and dale, meadows and corn fields, wood and water.
There are several salmon fisheries on its shores, and it abounds with small red cod and cuddies; and, in some seasons, a few herrings are caught in it. Seals are its constant inhabitants, and porpoises visit it in the latter end of April, and take leave of it about the close of July.
The tide flows six hours, and takes the same time to return; it runs from Connel in a SE. direction to Bonawe, and, after running along the north side of Cruachan-bean, bends its course NE. till it terminates in Glenetie, i. e. the valley of Eta, famous for being the residence of Usnath, father of Nathos, Althos, and Ardan; the first of whom ran away with Darthula, wife of Conquhan (or Cairbar), king of AUTHENTICITY OF OSSIAN’s POEMS. 531 Ulster in Ireland, which is the subject of a beautiful poem of Ossian. Many places in and about the loch and valley of Eta confirm, beyond a possibility of doubt, that such people were once resident there.
In particular a small island, with some vestiges of a house upon it, goes by the name ofElain Usnich, or the island of Usnath. There is also, in the farm of Dalness in Glenetie, a rock rising in the form of a cone, on the end of a high hill, commanding a romantic prospect, which to this day retains the name of Grianan Dear dull, the basking-place of Darthula.” Description of Morten and its Antiquities in the Presbytery of Mull, County of Argyle, by the Ret. Norman Mac Lead* “ The modern name Morven, or Morvern, as it is more properly called, being the method of spelling it in ancient records, and much nearer the uniform pronunciation of the inhabitants, is plainly from the ancient Gaelic name Mor-Earran, i. e. great division, or lot. To those who are acquainted with the Gaelic language, it will appear evident, that the meaning of this name must he different from the word Mor Yen, as used in the poems of Ossian, where it is derived from the Gaelic words Mor Bheann, i. e. of the great mountains, and seems to have been a general term for the Highlands, or hilly country.
“ The common notion is, that the whole Highlands were the country of Fingal and his heroes, for in * See Statistical Account of Scotland, Vol. X. p. 262 and 274).
532 SUPPLEMENTAL OBSERVATIONS ON THEevery part thereof, as well as in this parish, there are names derived from them, and their achievements. The whole Highlands might justly be called Duthaich nam mor Bheann, or country of high hills;
but a Highlander never gives that name to this parish, but calls it A vihor-earran.
“ The principal antiquity is the ruin of a castle, at a farm called At'dtet'inish (possibly the Inishtore of Ossian), on the sound of Mull, where Macdonald of the Isles resided, and held his courts and parliaments.
Vide Abercrombie’s Life of James II.
“ In different parts of the parish, especially along the coast of the sound of Mull, on elevated places, there are several circular buildings, commonly called druidical temples, or cairns. They are generally formed of large whinstones, inclosing a small spot of ground, of different diameters, none of them exceeding eight yards. The language principally spoken in the parish, is Gaelic; but of late years, by the advantages derived from schools, and the more general communication with the low country, the English language is more universally understood throughout the parish than formerly. Many names of places in this parish are of unknown, or uncertain derivations; others plainly of Gaelic or Celtic original. Thus, Innismore is the great brae; Port a baat, the boat creek; Fiunary, Fingal’s shieling;
Dunien, Fingal’s fort or hill; Kemin, Fingal’s steps or stairs. Dunien is a curious round rock, of considerable height, partly covered on the sides with a green sward, but of no easy ascent. On the top is an area of about one-eighth of an acre, which AUTHENTICITY OF OSSIAN’S POEMS. 533 evidently appears to have been encircled with a wall;
very few vestiges of which now remain, owing partly to the injuries of time, and partly to want of taste in the tenants formerly occupying the farm, who pulled down the stones, for domestic purposes, to save the trouble of quarrying.
“The den itself commands an extensive view, and was well chosen for a place of defence against a flying party : it lies on the farm of Fiunary, and is now part of the glebe. There is a water running by the foot of the hill, of a romantic appearance, on account of its high banks and the number of its pools and cascades.
“ The sloping braes on each side of this water, were formerly covered with a fine natural wood of oak and ash; of which nothing now remains but a little brushwood, a nuisance rather than a beauty to the place. Kemin, is steps in the form of a natural stair, pretty regular, in a rock, towards the top of a hill called Bein-eiden, mentioned in an old poem ascribed to Ossian ; but whether this, or another of that name in Ireland, be the hill therein referred to, it is not pretended to say; Drimnin, the ridges, Ullin, the elbow, Stron, the nose; Achaharn, the field of cairns, Arginish, the shieling of good bedding for cattle, names of places very descriptive of their appearance or properties. The principal place of worship, and where the oldest church stands, is called Cill-collumkill, or cell of the famous Columbus of Iona. The, other place of worship is Kiliunik, or cell of WiniI fred. Though the church is now removed to a little distance from it; at each of these there is a churchSUPPLEMENTAL OBSERVATIONS ON THE yard, or burying-ground, but now without any fence, though anciently their precincts were distinctly marked, and considered as sanctuaries.”
Thomas Newte, Esq. in his Prospects and Observations on a Tour in England and Scotland,* speaking of that part of Glen Ahnon, which is next to Grief and the low country, accords with the description given by Daniel de Foe in his Tour, who says that the hollow through which the road passes from Grief to Inverness, is so narrow, and the mountains on each side so high, that the sun is seen but two or three hours in the longest day. Mr. Newte then continues to make the following interesting observations. “ In that awful part of Glen Almon already mentioned, where lofty and impending cliffs, on either hand, make a solemn and almost perpetual gloom, is found Clachan-Ossian, or monumental stone of Ossian. It is of uncommon size, measuring seven feet and a half in length, and five feet in breadth.
About fifty years ago, certain soldiers employed under General Wade, in making the military road from Stirling to Inverness, through the Highlands, raised the stone by large engines, and discovered under it a coffin full of burnt bones. This coffin consisted of four grey stones, which still remain, such as are mentioned in Ossian’s Poems. Ossian’s stone, with the four grey stones in which his bones are said
• Edition in quarto, published in P* 22S.
AUTHENTICITY OF OSSIAN’s POEMS. 535 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 shealt 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.
536 SUPPLEMENTAL OBSERVATIONS ON THEThese 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 Sr on na huath B/iidh, or the Nose of the Cave : there is a great hollow under ground, where it is said a giant once resided, who entertained a malicious grudge against Fingal, when he dwelt at Fion Theach.