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ticular, assume that the immigration took place much later than the Danish conquests in England; and on the whole we shall not be far from the truth in asserting, that as the Danish conquests in England must have driven many Anglo-Saxons into Scotland, so also the subsequent Norman conquest must have compelled many Danes and Norwegians, settled in the north of England, to cross the Scottish border.
According to this view, most of the Scandinavian settlements in the middle and northern parts of the Lowlands are to be referred at the earliest to the close of the eleventh century; and at so late a period an entire change of the ancient names of places then existing there, could not, of course, be effected.
Traditions concerning "the Danes."—The Southern and Northern Lowlands.—Danish Memorials.—Burghead.
We cannot venture to conclude, from the few Scandinavian names of places found in the Lowlands, that the immigrant Scandinavian population was but inconsiderable; nor can we presume to infer either the extent or the period of the immigration from the numberless traditions respecting the Danes preserved throughout that district. For, although the Lowlands were far from being conquered by the Danes and Norwegians so early as England was, still the number of alleged Danish memorials, even of a remote age, is proportionately as great in the former as in the latter country. Tradition has gradually ascribed almost all the memorials existing in the Lowlands which are of any importance to "the Danes;" nay, even the learned have, down to the present day, been too much inclined to recognise traces of the bloody Danes in the much more ancient Pictish, Roman, and Scottish monuments. The traditions about the Danes have much the same character in the Lowlands as in England. They depict in vivid and touching traits the misery of the people and of the country under the repeated attacks of the wild sons of the sea, whose arrival, departure, and whole conduct, were as variable as the wind. When large bands of Vikings had landed, and the Scots had assembled an army to oppose them, it would sometimes happen that in the morning, when all was ready for the attack, the foreign ravagers were sought for in vain. In the darkness of the night they had taken the opportunity secretly to re-embark, and rumour soon announced to the army that the Vikings had again landed in quite a different part of the country, where they were spreading death and desolation. The Lowlander tells with horror of the many innocent women and children, not to speak of the numbers of brave men, who were slaughtered; of the churches, convents, and towns, that were destroyed by fire; and of the numerous herds of cattle and flocks of sheep, which, together with valuables of all sorts were carried off to the ships of the Vikings.
Although the Vikings are renowned in England for drunkenness and other kinds of dissipation, yet in Scotland tradition still more highly magnifies the inclination of the Danes for intoxicating liquors, and particularly for ale. It is also a general belief among the common people throughout Scotland and Ireland that the Danes brewed their strong ale from heather; a tradition which probably arose from the circumstance that in ancient times the Northmen spiced their ale with herbs; as, for instance, in Denmark with Dutch myrtle, or sweet willow (Dan., Porse), which grows in marshy heaths.
For the rest, there can be no doubt that the Scotch stories about the drunkenness of the Danes were a good deal multiplied in far later times, at the period, namely, when the Princess Anne, a sister of Christian the Fourth, was married to the Scotch king James the Sixth, or James the First of England. Queen Anne was accompanied to Scotland by several Danish noblemen, who introduced at
court, and among its hangers-on, the same carousing and revelling which at that time prevailed in far too high a degree at the court of Denmark. Burns, in his poem of "The Whistle," celebrates an ebony whistle still preserved in the family of Ferguson of Craigdarrock, which is said to have originally belonged to one of Queen Anne's Danish courtiers.
This Dane, who, even among his own countrymen, had the reputation of a great drinker, challenged the Scotch to drink with him for a wager, and promised the whistle to him who could drink him under the table. At the same time he produced evidence to show that in all his many drinking bouts at various northern courts in Russia and Germany, he had never been vanquished. However, after drinking three consecutive days and nights with Sir Robert Lawrie of Maxwelton, the Dane fell under the table, and Sir Robert gained the whistle. Sir Robert's son afterwards lost it again at a similar drinking bout with Walter Riddel of Glenriddel, from whose descendants it passed in the same way into the family which now possesses it.
But as a contrast to the many naturally exaggerated tales about the excesses committed by the Danes both in earlier and later times, it is refreshing to meet with romantic traditions about Danish warriors, whose bravery and comeliness could win the hearts of Scottish maidens, even whilst the curses of the Scots were heaped on " the Danish Vikings." A Danish warrior had been carried off by the Scots during an expedition into Morayshire, and imprisoned in a strong tower, where a speedy death awaited him. But the daughter of the lord of the castle, who had fallen in love with him, and found a requital of her affection, opened his prison door one night, and fled with him. When morning came the lord of the castle set off in pursuit of the fugitives, and overtook them on the banks of the river Findhorn, which runs through Morayshire. The lovers, who were both on one horse, attempted to swim the river; but the jaded animal could not make head against the stream, and the fugitive couple found a watery grave in the depths of the Findhorn. Near Dalsie, in Nairnshire, is a small sequestered valley on the banks of the Findhorn, inclosed by smooth sloping banks, overgrown with weeping birches. In the midst of this charming spot is seen a grave composed of stones heaped up, at one end of which stands a tall monumental slab, ornamented with carvings of a cross and other antique figures. This slab, the people say, is a monument to the unfortunate lady.
There is nothing intrinsically improbable in this tradition, since history testifies that the daughters of Scottish kings married Norwegian-Danish kings; whilst they, or at all events their countrymen, were making war in Scotland. In the beginning of the tenth century, the Scotch king, Constantine the Third, in conjunction with the more northern Anglo-Saxons, beat the Danes, who had passed over from Dublin under Reginald and Godfrey OTvar (Godfred Ivarson), in a great battle near the Clyde. Although Constantine, during nearly the whole of his reign, had to fight against Danish and Norwegian Vikings, yet he gave his daughter in marriage to Anlaf, or Olaf, king of the Danes in Dublin and Northumberland; nay, he even fought with Olaf and his Danish-Norwegian army against the Anglo-Saxons at the battle of Brunanborg. Sigurd, Jarl of the Orkneys, was also married to a daughter of the Scotch king, Malcolm the Second (10031033), although he had made devastating incursions and conquests in Malcolm's lands.
The attacks of the Norwegians and Danes on the Scottish Lowlands were so continuous that out of seven monarchs who reigned over the Scots from 863 to 961, or about a century, three are related to have fallen whilst fighting against the Danes. These monarchs are, however, said to have purchased decisive victories with their blood. If we compare the unsuccessful expeditions of the Northmen into the Scottish Lowlands with the great conquests made by the Danes in England, we shall not wonder that the inhabitants of the former country relate with a sort of pride the many victories of their forefathers over "the Danes;" nor shall we be surprised that the popular traditions, which point out the ancient battle fields, scarcely admit even the possibility of the Danes having been victorious.
In the southern and middle Lowlands (to the south of the Grampian Hills) the Firths of Forth and Tay afforded excellent landing places for the ancient Vikings. Many battles, therefore, were fought in their neighbourhood. In the vicinity of a rampart called "the Danes' dyke," in the parish of Crail, close to Fifeness, and between the firths just mentioned, the Scotch king Constantino, Kenneth's son, is said to have fallen in a battle against the Danes in 881. Forteviot, or Abernethy, the ancient capital of the Picts, which the Vikings often tried to plunder, lay in the innermost part of the Firth of Tay. The defence of this place, by King Donald the Fourth, in 961, cost him his life. Near Redgorton, in Perthshire, is a farm called "Denmark;" close to which are to be seen remains of intrenchments, besides tumuli, and monumental stones, said to originate from a defeat suffered by the Danes at this spot.
The most famous battle in these parts is, however, related to have taken place on the northern shore of the mouth of the Firth of Tay. In the reign of Malcolm the Second, after the Danes had already made themselves masters of England, the attacks of the Vikings began to assume a more dangerous character, A number of them landed in the Bay of Lunan, in Forfarshire, whence they plundered and laid waste the country for many miles around. But to the east of Dundee, near Barry, they encountered a Scotch army, which defeated them, and compelled them to make a retreat, during which they were again repeatedly beaten. Even to the present day tradition points out a line of Danish monuments extending from Barry to Aberlemno, in the neighbourhood of which place the last battles were