Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

whence it will appear natural enough that the first Scandinavian colonists in the Scotch border lands preferred to settle in the neighbourhood of that county. On the south-easternmost coast of Scotland, they would not only have been separated from their countrymen in the north of England by two intervening counties, but also divided by a broad sea from their kinsmen in Denmark and Norway. Such a situation would have been much more exposed and dangerous for them than the opposite coast, where they had in their neighbourhood the counties of Cumberland and Westmoreland, inhabited by the Northmen, as well as the Scandinavian colonies in Ireland and the Isle of Man.

The Scandinavian population in Dumfriesshire evidently appears to have emigrated from Cumberland over the Liddle and Esk into the plains which spread themselves westward of those rivers; at least the names of places there have the very same character as in Cumberland. Not only are the mountains called "fell" (Fjeld) and "rigg" (Ryg), as is also the case in the other border lands, but, what is more peculiar to Dumfriesshire, the terminations of "thwaite," "beck," and "garth," not to mention "by," or "bie," are transplanted hither from Cumberland: as, Thorny thwaite, Twathwaites, Robiethwaite, Murraythwaite, Helbeck, Greenbeck, Botchbeck, Torbeck, Stonybeck, Waterbeck, Hartsgarth, Tundergarth, Applegarth, Locherby, Alby, Middlebie, Dunnaby, Wysebie, Perceby, Denbie, Newby, Milby, Warmanbie, Sorbie, Canoby, and others.

These Scandinavian names of places are chiefly met with between the rivers Esk and Nith. Various authors have also endeavoured to show that the fishermen on the Nith have to the present day characteristic and original Scandinavian terms for their tackle and modes of fishing :—for instance, "pocknet," Icelandic pokanet; "leister,'' or "lister," Icelandic Ijdstr, Danish Lyster; " haaving, "Norwegian haave, i. «., to draw small nets in the water, Sec., Ac. Somewhat east of the river, and north of the town of Dumfries, lies the parish of "Tinwald," a name undoubtedly identical with Thingvall, or Tingvold; which, as the appropriate Scandinavian term for places where the Thing was held, is found in other districts of the British Isles colonized by the Northmen. And it was, indeed, natural that the Scandinavian colonists in the south-east of Scotland should fix their chief Thing place in the district most peopled by them.

From Dumfriesshire the Scandinavian names of places branch off asit were in an arch towards the west and east. Some few appear at intervals towards the west, as in Kircudbright (Begbie, Cogarth), in Wigton (Sorby, Killiness), in Ayr (opposite little Cumbray, Crosby, Sterby, Bushby, and Magby), and also in Lanark (Bushby, close to the southwest of Glasgow). Towards the east, some few are met with in Roxburgh, as, for instance, on the borders of Cumberland, "Corby," and "Stonegarthside," and on the frontier of Northumberland several in haw/h (Hoi, a hill) and holm. But on the whole only a few in by are still to be found on the borders between Berwick and Haddington (such as Humbie, Blegbie, and Pockbie). Towards Glasgow and Edinburgh the mountains are no longer called "fell " and "rigg." The Scandinavian names of places cease entirely in these districts; and only the Scandinavian word "fjortr," or Fjord, is heard here, as well as farther towards the north in the names of fiords (or firths) namely: Firth of Forth, Firth of Clyde, Firth of Tay, Moray Firth, and Dornoch Firth.

In the Lowlands, the number of Scandinavian names of places is quite insignificant when compared with the original Celtic, or even with the Anglo-Saxon names. Whence we may conclude that though a considerable immigration of Northmen into the Lowlands undoubtedly took place, it must have occurred under circumstances which prevented them from being sufficiently powerful to change the original names of places. We must, in particular, 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.

Section IV.

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 riight 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, aud 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

« НазадПродовжити »