So long the headquarters of Scottish Christianity, was ex changed for a little valley in the southern Grampians, enclosed by woody crags, and watered by the Tay. Kenneth ordained that at Dunkeld should be the seat of the Scottish primacy To impart to the second Iona something of the sanctity and prestige of the first, which the Vikings had made utterly desolate, Kenneth brought hither the relics of Columba.
F What was of. These religious teachers he diffused through the Pictish territory, planting many of them in the places from which their fathers had been expelled. By this tolerant measure he did an act of reparation for a great wrong, and strengthened his own influence among his Pictish subjects. One other symbol of authority and rule brought out and put conspicuously before the nation. With the reverence due to so venerable a symbol of dominion, this stone was brought to Scone, that the kings of Scotland might receive consecration upon it, and possess that mysterious and awful sanctity which, in popular belief, belonged to monarchs who had sat in this august seat.
These three, the Throne, the Primacy, and the Stone of Consecration, were grouped at the center of the kingdom, and within the Pictish territory, that the new subjects of Kenneth might feel that the union was complete, and that the Scottish monarchy had crossed Drumalban, not to make a transitory stay, but to find a scat of permanent abode. After these labors the Scottish nation and its monarch enjoyed a few years of peace. We see the good king living tranquil days in his palace of Forteviot, in the quiet valley which the Earn waters, and the heights of Dupplin on the one hand, and the swellings of the Ochils on the other so sweetly embosom.
On the west, the long vista guides the eye to where Drumalban rears its summits, and looks down on the two nations which it no longer divides.go here
Epub The Turning Of The Tide Alien Intrusion In Scotland 2007
We read, indeed, of some raids of King Kenneth in his latter years into the country of the Saxons beyond the Forth, for that river was still the southern boundary of Alban. F But the record of these incursions is so doubtful, and their bearing, even granting they took place, on Scottish affairs is so insignificant, that they hardly deserve historic mention. Kenneth reigned sixteen years after the union of the two nations. He died in in his palace at Forteviot. His mortal malady was fistula. The tidings that King Kenneth was dead would fly far and fast over Scotland, and wherever they came they would awaken sincere and profound sorrow.
There was mourning in Dalriada, which, sixteen years before, had seen the son of the slaughtered Alpin descend its mountains to begin that campaign which had ended in a union that decreed that there should no more be battle betwixt Scot and Pict. There was mourning in Pictavia, which, though compelled to bow to the sword of Kenneth, had found that his scepter was just and equitable. There was mourning amid the wild hills of the north onward to the strand of Caithness, for the clans had learned that the monarch win reigned in the hails of Forteviot was not a conqueror but a father.
And now come his obsequies. What a multitude gathers at the royal gates of Forteviot! Mormaer and Tioseach, with their respective clans, from the Pentland to the Forth, are there, including warriors who aforetime, it may be, had mustered to fight against the man whose dust they are now carrying in profound grief to the grave. The vast procession is marshaled, and proceeds with slow and stately march, along the valley westward.
The pibroch flings out its wail of woe, summoning dweller in hamlet and glen to join the funeral cortege and swell the numbers of this great mourning. The procession wends its way betwixt lakes and mountains which have since become classic, though then they were unsung by bard or poet. Many days the march continues, for the way is long to the royal sepulchers amid the western seas. At last the desolate and lonely isle is reached. Iona is still the proudest fane in Europe, despite that the Vikings have ravaged it with fire and sword, and left it nothing but its indestructible name.
The greatest of the Scottish kings, and even monarchs of other lands, leave it as their dying request to be taken to Iona, and buried in the Isle which the memory of Columba like a mighty presence still overshadows. They leave him there, the thunder of the Atlantic singing his requiem, for psalm and chant have ceased amid the fallen shrines of Iona.
T HE good king Kenneth has gone to his grave, and the light would seem to have departed with him. No sooner is he laid in the tomb than the shadow of an eclipse falls upon the historic landscape, and for some time we travel onwards in comparative darkness. Several successive reigns pass away before we can see distinctly what is passing on the soil of Scotland. The chroniclers who narrate the transactions of these dark centuries- and they are the darkest of Scottish history- were not eye- witnesses of what they record; they gleaned their information from a variety of traditional and monumental sources, and however painstaking and truth- loving they may have been, it was impossible for them to avoid being at times wrong in their conclusions, and mistaken as to their facts.
F We are all Hector Boece wrote in His work is in classical Scotch prose. Great events bring their own light with them, and write their own history. This is especially true of events which have the spiritual for their basis, and which summon into action the souls rather than the bodies of men. Such epoch has an electric brilliancy which keeps it above the horizon despite ages of intervening darkness. How distinct and palpable is still the Scotland of the sixth and seventh centuries! We follow as vividly the voyage of Columba across the Irish Sea to the shores of Iona, as if we had sailed with him in the osier- ribbed vessel which carried him across.
We watch from day to day the rising walls of that humble edifice within which he is to gather the youth of many lands, and there train them in a theology drawn from the pure fore, rains of Holy Scripture. We become his companions when he goes forth on his missionary tour among the Picts, and see him roll aside the darkness of Druidism from the north of Scotland, and revive the dying lamp of the faith in the Lowlands. Our interest in his labors grows as his work draws nigh its completion, and we see Scotland dotted with Columban brotherhoods, schools of Christian knowledge, and centers of Christian industry and art.
We are parted from the men who accomplished this great work by thirteen centuries, yet we think of them as if they had been our contemporaries, and had only recently rested from their labors. But with the Death of Kenneth MacAlpin, or rather with the decay of the Columban age, there comes a great change. Scotland hardly looks the same country as when Columba stood at the head of its scholars and Kenneth MacAlpin lead its armies. It has receded into the far distance, and we stand gazing into a haze. Scotland, it is true, does not lack kings. Kenneth MacAlpin has successors who have sat upon the LiaFail at Scone, but they pass before us like phantoms.
Nor does Scotland lack warriors; at least it does not lack battles. The land rings incessantly with the clash of arms. But if the sword is busy, we fear the plough rests. The acres under tillage diminish instead of multiplying, and fields which had been redeemed from the wilderness by the skillful and diligent husbandry of men who had learned their agriculture as well as their Christianity from the elders of Iona, fail back again into the desert and become covered with bracken, while the wild boar, dislodged from his convert, comes back to his old haunt and lies in wait for the traveler.
The lamp has waxed dim, and its flame sunk low in the schools of learning and in the sanctuaries of religion. We hear of armies crossing the Tweed to fight for the doubtful possession of Northumbria, and extend the Scottish, dominions to the banks of the Tyne, or even the Humber, but hardly do we hear of missionary bands in their home- spun woolen garments and sandals of cow hide, setting forth, as aforetime, from the Scottish shore to carry the name of Scot and the faith of Culdee to countries afar off.
The moment was critical. All that had been won- and much had been won-was on the point of being lost. Scotland had begun to work its way back to its former condition of divided and warring nationalities. So would it have appeared to an onlooker. But no; Pict and Scot must now part company. If they would fulfill their destiny they must contend side by side on the same battlefield, and feel the purifying and elevating influence of a great common cause, prosecuted through toil, through painful sacrifices, through disheartening reverses, till, borne to victory, it has been crowned with complete achievement.
It is not the success that comes with a rush, but the success that comes as the fruit of slow, patient, and persistent labors and conflicts that anneals, hardens, and at last perfects nations destined to rise to a first place, and to render the highest services to mankind.
It is on such a process that Scotland is about to be taken. It is to be put upon the anvil and kept on it for seven generations, till Pict and Scot shall not only have mingled their blood but fused their souls, and for the narrow aims of Clan substituted the wider and nobler aspirations of Nation. Even before Kenneth was laid in the sepulchral vaults of Iona, the Scots had warning that the clouds were gathering, and were sure to break in storm. They had seen what the sea could bring forth. Ships of ominous build, swift as the eagle, and as greedy of prey, had once and again appeared off their coast, and sent a thrill of terror along the sea- board.
These unwelcome visitors would retreat, and after disappearing in the blue main would suddenly return, as if they took pleasure in tormenting their destined victims before pouncing upon them. To come and see and go back would not always suit the purpose of these plundering sea- kings. One day they would strike. Already they had swooped upon the extreme northwestern parts, and struck their cruel talons into the quivering land.
Iona gone, its monks slaughtered, and its buildings blackened with fire, remained the monument of their visit. The first to take his seat on the Stone of Scone and assume the government of the kingdom after Kenneth MacAlpin was his brother Donald. Had the nation forgotten the services of the father, seeing they pass by the son and place the brother on the vacant throne? No, Scotland is not unmindful of what it owes to Kenneth MacAlpin; but in those days the succession to the crown was regulated by what is known as the law of Tanistry. This was a wise law in times so unsettled as those of which we write, and must have largely helped to steady the nation.
When it happened that a monarch died leaving a son to succeed him who was of tender years, it was held unwise to put the scepter into his hands. The vigor of manhood was needed to cope with the saucy and turbulent chieftains of the then Scotland, and in the hands of a child the scepter would have run great risk of being contemned. On the death of a monarch, therefore, his nearest collateral relative, or that one of the royal family who was deemed fittest for the office, was selected, and the son meanwhile had to wait till years had given him experience, and the death of the reigning king had opened his way to the throne.
F As regards the prince now on the Scottish throne, nearly all we can say of him is that he wore the crown for four years. He stands too far off in point of time, and he is seen through too thick a haze to permit us to take his measure. Historians have given us two different and opposite portraits of King Donald, painting him, probably, as they wished him to have been, rather than as he really was, for they had hardly any better meansof judging of his true character than we have.
With this view they formed an alliance with the Saxons of England, assuring them that the northern kingdom was ready to drop into their arms would they only unite their forces with theirs iii the effort to wrest the ancient Pictland from the Scottish sway. The Saxons marched northward as far as the Forth. Had the raid succeeded it is probable that the Saxons would have kept the country to themselves, and left the mutinous and treacherous Picts to find a kingdom where they could.
Happily the arms of Donald prevailed, and Scotland remained the united nation which Kenneth had made it. In Donald, as the old chroniclers have striven to reproduce him from the mists of a remote time, we have, as we have said, a picture with two totally unlike sides. On the side which we have been contemplating there is shown us a profligate prince and a kingdom falling in pieces. Turn the obverse. We arestartled by the grand image that now meets us. The voluptuary and trifler is gone, and iii his room is a prince, temperate, brave, patriotic, sustaining the state by his energy and virtues.
So have Fordun and Winton, both of whom wrote before Boece, represented Donald. They tell us, too, that not only was he careful to preserve the splendid heritage of a united people which his brother had left him, but that he was studious to keep war at a distance by cultivating friendship with neighboring kings.
We make no attempt to reconcile these two widely divergent accounts. We see in them the proof that the real Donald is not known, and now never can be known. In a question of this sort it is the earliest authorities who are held to speak with the greater weight, seeing they stand nearest the sources of information; and as it is the earlier chroniclers that give us the more favorable portrait of Donald, he is entitled to the presumption thence arising in his favor.
Donald closed his short reign of four years- too short if he was the virtuous prince which some believe him to have been, but too long if he was the monster of vice which others say he was- in the year The rock in the western seas received his ashes. On the death of Donald the succession returned to the direct line. We now see Constantin, the son of Kenneth MacAlpin, assuming the crown. The memories of the great father lend prestige to the throne of the son, and give authority to his scepter.
And, verily, there was need of all the rigor which could possibly be infused into the government of the kingdom, for the hour was near when Scotland would have to sustain a severer strain than any to which it had been subjected since the days of the Romans. The tempest which had rolled up from England in the previous reign, and which had discharged itself on the southern shores of the Forth, was a summer blast compared with the hailstorms which were gathering in the countries on the other side of the North Sea.
The battle with the Norseman was now to begin in deadly earnest. A few premonitory blows, sharp and quick, had the Viking dealt on the borders of the country, but now he was to assemble all his hordes, and come against the land like a cloud, and strike at the heart of the kingdom. For two centuries to come the kings of Scotland would have other things to think of than the wine cup and the boar hunt, and the Scots would do well to reserve their blood for worthier conflicts than a raid into Northumbria. Before the great battle opened Constantin found that he had a little war on his hands at home.
The district of Lochaber suddenly burst into flames. This provincial conflagration had been kindled by a Highlander named MacEwan, whom Constantin had appointed to be governor of the district.
Table of contents
The ambition of this man was not to be bounded by the narrow confine of his Highland principality. He had higher aims than he could find scope for in Lochaber. A number of discontented men, who too doubtless thought that their great merits had been overlooked, gathered round him and offered him their help in his attempt on the throne. MacEwan, who did not dream that his treason had traveled as far as the valley of the Earn, and was known in the Palace of Fort- Teviot, was surprised to find himself face to face with his sovereign. His followers dispersing, left their leader to enjoy alone whatever promotion Constantin might be pleased to confer upon him.
That promotion was such as his services deserved. He was hanged before the Castle of Dunstafnage, which he had made his headquarters, and the rebellion expired. After this appeared a portent of even worse augury which struck alarm into the heart of both king and people. The tempest this time came not from the land but from the sea. The Danes had landed on the coast of Fife, and had already begun their bloody work. The tidings of what had happened sent a shock through the whole kingdom.
Contrary to their usual custom the invaders had made their descent on the eastern coast, where they were not looked for, and as the Scotland of that age had no army of observation, their landing was unopposed. They held no parley with the natives, they offered no terms of submission, but unsheathing their swords, they began at once to hew their way into the interior of the kingdom.
Their course lay along the fertile vale of the Leven, and its green beauty under their feet quickly changed into ghastly red. The cruel Dane was merciful to none, but his heaviest vengeance fell upon the ministers of the Christian Church. A considerable number of ecclesiastics is said to have made good their escape to the Isle of May, but their persecutors followed them thither, and remorselessly butchering them, converted the little isle into a horrible shambles.
Possibly the Danes deemed their slaughter a pleasing sacrifice to their god Odin, for paganism in all its forms is a cruel and blood- thirsty thing. King Constantin, assembling his army, marched to stay the torrent of Scottish blood which the Danish sword had set flowing. He found the Danish host divided into two bodies, and led by Hungan and Hubba, the two brothers of the Danish king. One corps was robbing and slaughtering along the left bank of the Leven, and the other was engaged with equal ardor in that to them most congenial work on the right bank of the same stream.
Constantin led his soldiers against the Danish force on the left. Recent rains had swollen the Leven, and the Danes on the other side durst not tempt the angry flood by crossing over to the assistance of their comrades.
History of the Scottish Nation
Left alone with the Scottish army they were utterly routed, and Constantin inflicted a sever chastisement upon them, cutting them off almost to a man. When the Danes on the right side of the river saw how complete was the victory of the Scots they fell back before them, and resolved to make their final stand in the neighborhood of their ships. Their fleet lay at anchor in Balcombie Bay, in the eastern extremity of Fife, two miles beyond the town of Crail. A sweet and peaceful scene is this spot, seen under its normal conditions. The blue sea, the bright sandy beach, the vast crescent of rocks and shingle, steep and lofty, that sweeps round it, a full mile in circuit, lying, moreover, in the bosom of a far mightier bay of which the southern arm finds its termination in the promontory of St.
Abbs, and the northern in the precipices of the Red Head, make as fine a piece of coast scenery as is almost anywhere to be beheld. Yet dire was the carnage that day enacted on this usually quiet and secluded spot. The Danes strengthened their position by drawing round the bay atop, a bristling barricade of rocks and stones, with which the spot plentifully supplied them.
They dug entrenchments on the level plain outside their bulwark, which further strengthened their camp. Immediately beneath, in the bay,- they might almost drop a pebble upon their decks,were moored their galleys, ready to carry them across the sea, if the day should go against them, and they lived to go back to the country whence they had come. The Danes fought for life, the Scots for country, and both with fury and desperation. The battlefield was the open plain above the bay, in our day an expanse of rich corn fields, all the richer, doubtless, from the blood that then so abundantly watered it.
The hottest of the strife would rage at the barrier of boulders thrown up to break the onset of the Scots. It was the object of the latter to drive the Danes over their own rampart, and roll them down the slope into the sea; but the invaders made good their footing on the level ground, and forcing back the body of their assailants, escaped the destruction that yawned in their rear.
The slain lay all about, and the blood of Scot and Dane trickling down in the same stream dyed the waters of the bay, and gave terrible intimation to those in charge of the galleys of the desperate character of the struggle that was going on on shore. The good fortune of Constantin did not attend him in this second battle. This was owing to no lack of spirit or bravery on his part, but grew out of the fret and discontent that continued to smolder in the Pictish mind against the sway of the Scottish scepter.
A contingent of Picts is said to have left the field while the battle was going on, and their desertion disheartening their comrades, turned the scale in the fortunes of the day. When the battle had ended, Scotland was without a king. As Constantin was fighting bravely in the midst of his fast- falling ranks, he was surrounded by the Danes, seized and dragged to a cave in the rocks, and there beheaded. Ten thousand Scots are said to have perished in that battle.
Of the Danes the slain would be even more numerous, for the entire force on the left of the Leven was cut in pieces in the first battle, and considering how desperately the second was contested, the Danish dead in it would count at least man for man with the Scots. The Danes sought no closer acquaintance with Scotland meanwhile.
Making their way to their ships, they set sail, leaving behind them a land over which rose the wail of widow and orphan, to be answered back by an equally loud and bitter cry from the homes to which they were hastening, as soon as they should have arrived there with the doleful tidings they were carrying thither. The body of the king was found next day. A sorrowing nation carried it to Iona, and laid it in the sepulchers of the Scottish kings. It was only twenty years since the funeral procession of Kenneth MacAlpin had been seen moving along the same tract, in greater pomp, it may be, but not in profounder grief.
The father had died on the bed of peace, the son had gone down in the storm of battle, and now both rest together in the sacred quiet of the little isle. Constantin had reigned fourteen years, dying in A. Such was the first burst of the great storm. The clouds had rolled away for the moment, but they would return, not once, nor twice, but many times in years to come. Hence- forward the Scottish peasant must plough his fields and reap his harvests with the terror of the Dane hanging over him.
Intrusion OF TURNING TIDE THE in Alien Scotland THE
At any moment this flock of Norse vultures might rise out of the sea, and swoop down upon his land and make it their prey. He must be watchful, and sober, and provident. He must care for the interests of his country, and know that his individual security and defense lay not in the strength of his clan, but in the strength of his nation; in the unity and power of all its clans, near and remote. He must cease to seek occasions of quarreling, lest, Imply, the common enemy should come suddenly, and finding him fighting with his neighbor, should have an easy victory over both.
The Danes of that day were the most powerful of the German nations. Their narrow territory, overstocked with inhabitants, was continually in labor to relieve itself by sending forth new swarms of piratical adventurers. Its youth, hardy and martial, were always ready to embark in any enterprise that offered them the chance of waging battle and of gathering spoil.
They had been born to slay or to be slain, and better not to have lived than to live and not to have mingled in the carnage of the battlefield. Their welcome at the gates of Valhalla, There are, however, very great difficulties in the way of this theory. The Danes, of course, would cross to Scotland in their ships. On arriving, and beginning their march through the whole breadth of the country what did they do with their fleet? They could only send it round the north of Scotland by the Pentland, to wait the arrival of the army on the east coast.
Considering the hazard of a march through a country whose whole population was hostile, were not the Danes more likely to accompany their ships, and make their assault in unbroken force on the east coast, whence, if they were beaten, they had an open road to their own country? It is extremely unlikely that the expelled colony of Danes should have been able to drive the Scots before them across the entire island, and that the Scots should make a stand only when they had no alternative but fight or be driven into the sea. These improbabilities are so great that we may venture to say they never took place.
Such was their ethical creed. They troubled themselves with no questions of casuistry touching the rights of the inhabitants of a country marked out for invasion. All lands were theirs if only their sword could give them possession. If it was a Christian land the point was so much the clearer, for in that case it belonged, without dispute, to the people of Odin, and nothing could be more pleasing to this deity that that his worshippers should take possession of it, and consecrate it by the erection of his altars.
Such were the people that hung upon the flank of the Scotland of the ninth and following century. It is after a different fashion that the overcrowded or hungry populations of our day go about the business of seeking out and occupying new settlements. Crossing the sea with his wife and little ones, the emigrant sets to work with his axe, felling not men but trees, and having cleared a space in the primeval forest, he sets up his homestead, and begins those operations of spade or plough which soon teach the earth around his humble log- house to wave with cornfields or blossom with orchards.
But so prosaic a mode of finding for himself a new home was little to the taste of the emigrant of the ninth century. The country that could be won without battle was scarce worth possessing. The claimant of new territories in that age crossed the main in a galley blazoned with emblems of terror: the prow the head of horrid dragon, and the stern the twisted tail of venomous snake.
The earth grew red at his approach. The invaded region was cleared out with the sword, and its new occupant set himself down on the gory soil. This fate had already been meted out to South Britain. Descending on it with the swift and destructive force of one of their own hailstorms, the Anglo- Saxons made the country their own. They cleared out the inhabitants with the summary agencies of fire and sword, and driving a few miserable remnants of the population into the corners of the land, they gave to the country a new race and a new name.
They called it Anglo- land. A similar fate had been allotted to Scotland by the Dane. Its ancient people were to be hewn down. Some few might be spared to be hewers of wood and drawers of water to the conqueror, but the Dane was to be its lord and master. Its ancient name was to be blotted out: the sanctuaries of the Culdee were to be razed and the shrines of Thor set up in their room.
It was this tremendous possibility that made the two nationalities coalesce. They were fused in the fire. Every battle with the Dane, every heap of slain which his sword piled up, and every shipload of booty which he carried across the sea, only helped to strengthen their cohesion and fan their patriotism. The question was no longer whether shall Scot or Pict take precedence in the government of the realm?
The question now had come to be, shall either of the two be suffered to rule it, or indeed to exist in it? Shall the name of Caledonia cease from the mouths of men, and shall the country in all time coming be known as Daneland? W HEN Scotland looked up from the battlefield of Crail there appeared on every side nothing but disaster and apparent ruin.
The throne empty, the flower of the army fallen on the field, and the adhesion of the Picts become doubtful, the Union appeared to be in greater peril than at any time since the great battle on the banks of the Tay, which brought the Scots and Picts together in one nation. But the dynasty of Fergus is not to end here; the little country must gather up its strength and repair its losses before the Danes have time to return and strike a second blow.
The first care of the Scots was to select one to fill the vacant throne. The choice of the nation fell on Eth or Aodh, the brother of Constantine. This prince had been present in the recent battle, and when the king fell he rallied the broken ranks and led them off the field. Of all his exploits this only has conic down to us. He is known as Eth of the Swift Foot, from an abnormal nimbleness of limb which enabled him to outstrip all his fellows. John Major calls him an Asahel, and tells us that no one could keep pace with him in running. Of Eth, as of all the Scottish monarchs of the time, very different portraits have been drawn.
It were vain to plunge into the darkness of the ninth century in search of the real Eth. He is gone from us for ever, but we have no proof that he conspicuously possessed the talents fitting him for governing in the unsettled and unhappy times in which it fell to his lot to occupy the throne. While events of great importance are passed over as unworthy of record, the early chroniclers often detain us with occurrences of no significance whatever, especially if they have about them as much of the marvelous as to make them pass for prodigies.
If we may credit these writers, the earth, the sea, and the air were, in those ages, continually sending forth supernatural omens to warn or to terrify men. These denizens of the deep had their name from the resemblance they bore to the cowled fraternity whose habitat is the land. They looked like an army of monks immersed in the waves and struggling to reach the shore.
The peasantry who regarded them as the certain prognosticators of disaster, beheld their approach with alarm if not with horror. There was no need surely to send a shoal of sea- monks to foretell calamities which were already palpably embodied in the war galleys of the Danes, in the graves at Balcombie Bay, and the sounds of grief that still echoed in castle and cottage throughout Scotland. With the next reign came better complexioned times. The deep wound Scotland had received in the battle- field of Crail began to be healed. We now find Grig, or, as he is sometimes termed, Gregory, on the throne.
The lineage of this man cannot be certainly traced. The presumption is that he was outside the royal line, or at best but distantly related to it, and that he opened his way to the crown by his ambition and talents, favored by the distractions of the time. The vigor and firmness of Gregory steadied a reeling state, and brought back to the throne the prestige it had lost during the previous reign.
He had won his high position over not a few rivals, but he knew how to conquer enemies by pardoning them. The first act of his administration was to issue an indemnity to all who had been in arms against him- an act of grace which augured well for his future reign. The reign of Gregory has been made famous by a law passed by him in favor of the ministers of religion. The old chroniclers, so full of talk on other things, are very reticent on this subject. Columba and Iona would seem to have fallen out of their memory. But there come in the course of their narrations incidental statements which are a lifting of the veil, and which give us a momentary glimpse of the position of churchmen and the state of religion.
This is one of those incidental statements. It is brief but pregnant, and warrants one or two not unimportant conclusions. It is still Alban. There was as yet no foreign priesthood in the country. There were, it is true a few propagandist missionaries and itinerant monks in the land doing business for Rome, but their proselytizing labors were confined mostly to the court of princes or the monastery of the abbot, where they strove to insinuate themselves into confidence by an affectation of a sanctity which they did not possess, and all the while scheming to supplant the clergy of the nation by accusing them of practicing a worship of barbarous rites, and throwing ridicule upon them as wearing the tonsure of Simon Magus.
No ecclesiastical body at this hour in Scotland had any pretensions to the status of a church, save that spiritual organization which had its cradle in the Scotch colony of Dalriada, its center in the Scotch school of Iona, and which from that center had spread itself over the Scottish land. This church had all along been served mostly by Scotsmen in both its home and foreign field, and when this little sentence lifts the veil in the end of the ninth century, it is seen still existing in its corporate condition, and receiving royal recognition as the National Church of Scotland.
It may be that neither trunk nor bough are so robust and vigorous as they were in the sixth and seventh centuries, but there stands the old tree still, and there around it are the Scottish people, and in this royal edict we see room made for its spreading itself more widely abroad.
Whatever may have been the nature of that bondage, which it is not easy to conjecture from so brief a statement, it would seem to have been restricted to Pictland, and unknown in the territory of the Scots, where a more liberal treatment was adopted toward the clergy. It may throw a little light on this matter if we recall an occurrence that had taken place among the Picts a century and a half before the days of Gregory, the first liberator of the Scottish Church. Nectan was at that time on the Pictish throne A.
Your priests have no true tonsure and no true Easter. The courses they follow are contrary to the universal Church; we come to lead you and your people into the right path, that you may no longer offend God and hazard your salvation by the observance of a barbarous ritual. It required, therefore, no elaborate argument to make a convert of a man who was already more than half convinced. Having tasted the new wine of Rome, the juice of the vine of Iona had lost its relish for him. The new, said Nectan, is better than the old. The historian Bede has given a minute and graphic description of the scene, and in doing so he is narrating what took place in his own day.
The letter of Abbot Ceolfrid is addressed in as magniloquent terms as if the monk had been writing to a great Eastern potentate instead of a Pictish king. Therefore I publicly declare and protest to you who are here present, that I will for ever continually preserve this time of Easter, together with all my nation; and I do decree that this tonsure, which we have heard is most reasonable, shall be received by all the clergy of my kingdom. For the cycles of nineteen years were by public command sent through all the provinces of the Picts to be transcribed, learnt, and observed, the erroneous revolutions of eighty- four years being everywhere obliterated.
All the ministers of the altar and the monks adopted the coronal tonsure; and the nation being thus reformed, rejoiced as being newly placed under the direction of Peter, the most blessed prince of the Apostles, and made secure under his protection. Bede drops the curtain while the scene is at its best, the king praising and giving thanks, and the nobles and people joining their acclamations with their sovereign over this great religious reformation!
And verily they might well give vent to their joy, for a wonderful feat truly had been accomplished in an astonishingly brief space, and by amazingly simple and summary means! Well might Pictavia rejoice! It has opened a new epoch! There is another side to this bright picture. Voices not altogether in unison are heard to mingle with this chorus of national rejoicing. Whence come these discordant sounds These are the protests of certain recalcitrant members of the Columban clergy who refuse to submit their heads to be shorn after this new and strange fashion. It matters not, we can hear them urge, whether the head be tonsured after this mode or after that, or whether it be tonsured at all.
Ours is not a gospel of tonsure one way or other. Columba did not cross the sea and institute his brotherhood at Iona merely to initiate Scotland into the mystery of the tonsure. The truth of our doctrine and the efficacy of our sacraments do not lie in the peculiar tonsure of the man who dispenses them. That were to make Christianity a system of childish mimicry or of wicked jugglery. Nor does the power of the eucharist to edify depend on its being solemnized on a particular day. It is the grand fact of the Resurrection that gives the Christian festival its sublime significance.
Tonsure or no tonsure is therefore nothing to us. But it is everything to us to submit our heads to have imprinted upon them the badge of subjection to Rome. That were to renounce the faith of our fathers. It were to arraign and condemn Columba and the elders of Iona as having been in error all along, and guilty of schism in living separate from Rome, and following rebelliously the precepts of Scripture when they ought to have submitted to the councils of the Church.
Know therefore, O King, that we will not obey your command nor receive your tonsure. This was conduct truly faithful and magnanimous. It shows that the spirit of Columba still lived in the Scottish Church, and that the people of Scotland, instructed by pastors who could intelligently and firmly sacrifice status and emolument at the shrine of truth, had not so far degenerated as the silence of the monkish historians of after days would make us think.
There must yet have been no inconsiderable amount of piety and Christian knowledge in Scotland. But to Nectan these pleadings were addressed in vain. He was so filled with the adulation of Abbot Ceolfrid and the flatteries of the missionaries of Rome that he had no car to listen to the remonstrances of his own clergy. We do not know how many, but there is reason to conclude that a very great number of the Columban clergy refused compliance, and had to go into exile.
They were hospitably received by their brethren on the Scottish side of Drumalban. She must submit henceforth to the royal will, and do the royal bidding in the matter of the tonsure and Easter. It is probable that these two things were only the beginnings of the servitude in which the clergy were kept by the Pictish kings. It is of the nature of such bondage to grow. The men who had so far yielded, rather than go into exile with their brethren, would have to yield still farther, and have other burdens imposed upon them.
Possibly secular exactions were in time added to their ecclesiastical and spiritual sacrifices and disqualifications. Burdens would be laid on their estates as well as on their consciences. It had been customary to exempt their lands from the imposts and taxes of the State: these immunities they would no longer enjoy.
Possibly they were spoiled of their lands altogether. And now for a century and more the Columban clergy had been subject to this servitude in the Pictish dominions. It enjoined, under heavy penalties the Roman observance. It was this that drove the Columban clergy across Drumalban, and not the secular burdens and imposts which possibly were added afterwards. The latter they could have submitted to with a good conscience, although they might have accounted them unjust and oppressive; but the first, the Roman observance to wit, touched the conscience, and left them no alternative but to leave their country.
That this decree was revoked, and the ancient liberty of worship restored to the Columban clergy, we have undoubted proof. Two hundred years afterwards, when the Columban pastors met in conference with Queen Margaret and her bishops, the charge against them was that they practiced barbarous rites, and neither in the matter of the tonsure nor the matter of the eucharist did they conform to the laws of Rome. No more satisfactory evidence could we have of the liberty which Gregory gave the Scottish Church, and the use she made of it. It gave her two hundred years more of her ancient discipline and worship.
This tyrannical measure recoiled on Nectan and his kingdom. It created a rupture between the Picts and Scots, which issued in long and bloody wars betwixt the two races. The conversion of- the Pictish nations by Columba was followed by an instant sheathing of the sword; and now for a century and a half, hardly had there been battle betwixt Pict and Scot. Yet such is the fact. The two nations were drawing together, and the union betwixt them would have conic without fighting and bloodshed, had not the bigotry Nectan rekindled the old fires, and made it impossible that the two races should unite till first it had been shown a series of terrific and bloody contests which of the two was the stronger on the battlefield.
Nor is this all. They were the more numerous, and in some respects the more powerful of the two nations: and had the union come by peaceable means, the Picts undoubtedly would have given kings to the throne and their name to the country, but when they forced the matter to the decision of arms, they found that the injustice and cruelty of Nectan the Columban Church weighed upon their sword and turned its edge in the day of battle.
They fought with the valor of their race, they shed their blood in torrents, but they failed to win the kingdom, and their name perished. King Nectan and his line disappear, but the church of Columba which he had chased out of his dominions comes back to dwell again in the old land. One of the first measures of Kenneth MacAlpin after ascending the throne of the united kingdom was, as we have seen, to recall the Columban clergy and place them in the old ecclesiastical foundations left vacant by the expulsion of their fathers.
Another half century passes, and the Columban church obtains another enlargement under King Gregory, and now, after having been plucked up and cast out of the Pictish territory, we see her again taking root and flourishing in the enjoyment of her ancient privileges and liberties. Historians have been little observant of this fact, and certainly little observant of its lesson, but it is full of instruction. These well- authenticated facts make the silence of the monkish chroniclers of the tenth century regarding the condition of the Columban church a matter of less moment.
We are independent of their testimony; for here have we great historic monuments which assure us that the church of Columba had not passed out of existence, as their silence would almost lead one to conclude, but, on the contrary, that it remained rooted in the land as an independent organization, maintaining divine service according to the simple formula of Columba; that it lived on into the darkness of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, keeping alive the Christian knowledge of the Scottish people, of whose successive generations it was the instructor, in short, that it was the sheet anchor of the country, staying it in the midst of the furious tempests that burst upon it, now from the mountains of the north, now from the Danes beyond the sea, and now from the Saxons of England.
WE fail to discover in succeeding Pictish sovereigns that excess of proselytizing zeal which turned King Nectan into a persecutor. We read of no second act of bigotry similar to that which disgraced his reign. His successors on the throne could hardly fail to see that Nectan had committed a great error. The proofs of this were but too visible. He had created a great void at the heart of his kingdom.
These evil consequences had followed the tyrannical act which the Pictish king, influenced by the flattery of Abbot Coelfrid, and the persuasions of the Roman missionaries, and impelled moreover by his own fanatical zeal, had been driven to commit. His successors, warned by his example, would learn not to be enamored of Roman novelties, or open their ear too readily to monkish counselors. To revoke the edict and recall those whom it had driven into banishment might not now be in their power.
They had a war on their hands with the Scots, which demanded all their attention. While that war lasted it would not be a wise policy to recall the Columban clergy. They were mostly Scotch, and might have difficulty in maintaining the attitude of neutrals during hostilities. They would at least be liable to be suspected of secretly favoring the triumph of the Scotch arms.
And hence it was that, although there is no evidence that the Roman innovations meanwhile made much progress beyond the court of Nectan, or found favor with the Pictish people, farther than the royal edict might compel them to an outward uniformity in the Easter celebration, the return of the Columban clergy to the Pictish dominions did not take place till the war between the two races had ended in their union into one nation. The return of the Columbites, as we have seen, was under Kenneth Macalpin: their full restoration to their ancient liberties was half a century later in the reign of King Grig, or Gregory, to whom we now return.
The strong hand of Gregory on the helm, Scotland began again to make headway While he sat on the throne the gloom kept thickening above the country, but with the new ruler there came a new dawn. Gregory had opened his reign with a measure of good augury, and not less of wise policy: for it is not necessary to suppose that in relaxing the bonds of the Columban clergy he was actuated solely by religious considerations. He had respect, no doubt, to the benefit which himself and his nation would reap from this act of justice.
If, as is strongly suspected, his title to the throne was doubtful, he did well to make sure that so influential a body as the Columbites should be on his side and in favor of his government. A portion of the Pictish nation had brought their loyalty into suspicion. Their behavior in the late disastrous battle had been equivocal. Gregory did not choose that so grave a dereliction of duty on so critical an occasion should go without chastisement. Since the battle other circumstances had come to light which tended still farther to strengthen the doubt entertained respecting the thorough devotion of a section of the Picts to the cause of the union.
The Danes, on quitting the country after the battle of Crail, left this part of the coast in the possession of the Picts. This looked like keeping open the door for the return of the enemy. Gregory could not permit the keys of his kingdom to be in the hands of men who were disaffected to his Government, and who seemed not unwilling to sacrifice the union between the two races provided they recovered thereby their standing as a separate and independent nation.
He drove this body of disaffected Picts out of Fife across the Forth. He pursued them through the Lothians to Berwick, in which they shut themselves up, and where Gregory made them captive, the citizens having opened their gates to him. These successes at home would seem to have tempted the Scottish monarch to venture on exploits outside his own kingdom.
Instead of returning within the limits of Alban, which were already considerably overpassed, he led his army farther into Northumbria. These parts were then much infested by the Danes. When repulsed from the coast of Scotland they not unfrequently turned their galleys in the direction of England, and over- spreading the northern counties, then almost defenseless, they gathered no end of spoil, and shed very much blood. Gregory doubtless reckoned that if he could clear out these invaders from the northern counties of England the chance was so much the less of having to fight them on the soil of Scotland.
As an acknowledgment of the services Gregory had rendered them by ridding them, for the time at least, of these troublesome visitors, the petty sovereigns which then ruled in England, seem to have given him some sort of authority or dominion over the border counties of Northumberland, Cumberland, and Westmoreland, happy to commit their defense against foreign invasion to the sword of Gregory.
The Scottish monarch is described as pursuing his triumphant career further west. We next find him with his army in Strathclyde. The Britons of the Kingdom of Cumbria had offended by appropriating a narrow strip of Scottish territory which lay on the northern banks of the Clyde, and which included that famous rock Dumbarton at the foot of which the great apostle of Ireland had passed his youth.
Having rescued this hallowed spot, for such doubtless it was to Gregory, and having chastised the Britons for appropriating it, it was given back to Scotland. Not yet had Gregory finished his victorious course, if we are to believe his Scotch chroniclers. It must be added, however, that the record of these wars is somewhat dubious, and we dispatch them with brevity.
The English and Irish chroniclers are. We hear of them only from Fordun and other Scotch historians. That, however, is no sufficient reason for regarding them as altogether apocryphal. Those who maintain that these campaigns were never waged, and that their record is illusory, defend their allegation by salving that Gregory was a munificent patron of the Church, and that the monks of St. Andrews, to show their gratitude, carved out this brilliant career for the Scottish king, and exalted him to the rank of a hero.
But it does not appear that Gregory surpassed other Scotch kings of his age in the gifts he bestowed on churchmen, his one well- known act of grace excepted. Besides, the benefactions of Gregory were bestowed in the end of the ninth century, whereas his apotheosis as a great warrior, which it is insinuated was done in recompense of his liberality to the church, did not take place till the middle of the thirteenth century, the Registry of St.
Andrews having been written in It is truly refreshing to find the gratitude of the monks remaining fresh and green after four centuries. Seldom is it found that the sense of obligation to benefactors is so deep and lasting on the part of corporate bodies whether lay or cleric, as to call forth warm expressions of thanks centuries after the authors of these good gifts have exchanged their thones for their stone coffins.
Long before this wreath was placed on his tomb by the monks of St. Andrews, Gregory was nothing more than a handful of ashes. In that age it was difficult to keep England and Scotland apart, so as that their affairs should not intermingle. The same terrible people from beyond the sea were the enemies of both, and made their hostile descent now on the coast of the one country and now on the coast of the other. This drew England and Scotland together, and helped to maintain the peace betwixt them.
If so be the Danish hordes were driven back, and their galleys chased off the coast, it mattered little whether the feat had been achieved by Scotch or by English valor, since both countries shared in nearly equal measure in the benefits of the victory. Anywhere with wildflowers, look for bees! Spots such as Achmelvich, Glencanisp and Achlochan give a range of habitats, helping you see more than one species in an area. By-the-wind Sailors Velella velella : an alien looking species that is mostly seen when washed up on shores during storms.
In recent years, they have washed up in large numbers as a previous blog by the Assynt Field Club records: www. They are a very odd-looking creature, related to the jellyfish. They are formed by an upside-down colony of floating polyps with stinging tentacles trailing behind an upright see-through sail. They come under a community class of pleustonic meaning they live at the boundary of air and water.
In September we start to see some iconic fungi species such as the Fly Agaric Amanita muscaria. Its classic fairy tale looks, and red and white colouring is known by many although not all know its name. The coast around the CALL area holds the chance to see Skuas; a large seabird that is often known for dive bombing anything, or anyone, who gets close to their nests.
There are four species that can be seen near our waters: The Great Skua , or Bonxie, Stercorarius skua and the less seen Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus being the most likely with occasional sightings of Pomarine Stercorarius pomarinus and Long-tailed Skuas Stercorarius longicaudus. Bonxies, like all skuas, scavenge for food and have been recorded killing and eating Herring Gulls. Great Skuas generally arrive in April and are getting ready in September to fly to their wintering homes in Spain and Africa.
They have two central tail feathers up to 8cm long and a broad white flash on their underwing.
- Item Preview.
- Frontiers of Environmental Economics (In Association with the Association of European Universities).
- Letters: It will take more than marches and flag-waving to turn the tide.
- Sketching People: Life Drawing Basics;
- THE TURNING OF THE TIDE Alien Intrusion in Scotland;
- Jeremy Corbyn sees off Remain revolt as Labour conference backs his Brexit strategy.
They are often hard to tell apart from the similarly looking Pomarine Skua, which is occasionally seen from August to November on passage through the CALL area on its way from breeding in the Arctic to wintering in West Africa. It too has a long tail, but it is more spoon shaped. The Arctic Skua can often be seen chasing Terns fast and low along the water, trying to get them to drop their catch. They are also getting ready to migrate south for the winter. Handa Island Scottish Wildlife Trust Reserve is a great place to look for the Skua species breeding here , although a little north of Assynt.
Within Assynt they are spotted along the coasts whilst out looking for food. As we head towards Autumn, our wildflowers and trees are starting to provide fruits and nuts to reproduce themselves and, as an added bonus, feed our wildlife over the winter. A lot of wild foods for wildlife are also tasty to humans and foraging has become a household word in recent years.
If you wish to forage in your local area, please research what to pick and how to eat it. Best locations for finding these wild delights is along hedgerows or tree lines in sunny spots. Another sign of Autumn is the trees starting to turn as they also prepare for winter.
Birch Betula spp. Slowly the chlorophyll and cells joining the leaf and the branch break down and the leaves will drop to the ground. The tree can then concentrate on keeping alive within the trunk in a sort of hibernation state over the winter, waiting to break out new leaves in the Spring. Enjoy being out and about in Coigach and Assynt this month and as always please enjoy our wildlife and scenery responsibly. Natural Heritage Data Project. Sign up to our newsletter to keep informed about the latest news from our projects and upcoming events, training and volunteer opportunities.
Find out how you can get involved with the project through events, training and volunteering opportunities. What to Spot: September Edition. The stags are pumped full of testosterone leading to aggressive behaviour which can be misdirected to people if the following guidance is not taken from the British Deer Society : Please keep your distance from rutting deer m plus Use binoculars from a safe distance rather than getting closer Do not surround deer or intrude on displays.
Stags may feel threatened and feel they must defend their hinds from you Please keep dogs at home or on a lead If a deer comes towards you or acts threatened: back away slowly until deer is satisfied.