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those countries. We cannot, however, venture to conclude from this that the Orkneys, or any other part of Scotland, were at so early a period inhabited by a Scandinavian people. That such a colonization should really have taken place before the time of the Vikings, which began at the close of the eighth century, there are not only wanting historical and archseological proofs, but likewise all internal probability.
Mull ("Myl") is the largest of the most southern Norderoer, or- northern islands, but it is not richest in memorials of the Northmen. In the narrow strait or sound ("Mylarsund") which separates the island from the mainland, there lies straight before Tobermory, the most important place in the island, the little island of Calve (" Mylarkalfr "); and somewhat farther south of Tobermory, on a rivulet by the coast, are the ruins of the palace of Aros (from "aros;" Dan., Aarhus, the mouth of the rivulet or Aa), once frequently inhabited by the rulers of these islands, called "Lords of the Isles." Another river in Mull, well stocked with fish, was formerly called Glenforsay (Monro, "Description of the Western Isles," 1594), from the Norwegian " forsa" (Fosaa; Eng., Waterfall-river), to which the Gaelic glen has since been added. With the exception, perhaps, of Assapoll (from -hot), in the south-west, the island has no Norwegian names of places. Of such names, however, several are to be met with on the islands west of Mull, particularly on Coll (" Koln"), where we find Crossapull, Gisapoll (from bol), Arnabost (-bolster), and Balehough; and on Tiree, Tyrvist, together with Kirkapoll, Heylipoll, Vassipoll, and Crossipoll. In the bay formed by Mull, towards the west, are found many small islands with originally Norwegian names, such as Ulva (" Ulfey"), together with Soriby, Gometra ("GuSmundarey"), and Staffa (" Stafey"), so famed for its stalactic caverns.
But of all the Hebrides, none is more renowned than Iona (Ithona, "the Waves' Island "), or Icolmkill, "the
island with Columba's cells," which lies in the open Atlantic, near the south-west point of Mall. It is not distinguished either by size and fertility or by numerous and splendid ruins; it is now but an inconsiderable island, with some few remains of churches, conventual buildings, and ancient Christian sepulchral monuments. But about thirteen centuries ago it was the light of the western world; for, after St. Columba settled there, it became the central point whence Christianity diffused itself towards the east and north, over Scotland and the surrounding islands. Iona thus obtained such repute for sanctity, that it was said that a deluge which was to overwhelm Ireland, and the islands round about, would have no power to inundate it. Tradition adds, that, for this reason, the ancient Irish, Scotch, and Norwegian kings, besides many other chiefs and mighty men, both at home and abroad, chose Iona as their place of burial; and that at the commencement of the sixteenth century, no fewer than three hundred and sixty splendid stone crosses, or tombstones, were still to be found on the island, which, however, with some few exceptions, have now entirely disappeared.
According to an old description of the island, by Dean Monro (1594), there was to the north of the Scotch graves an inscription, which ran thus:—" Tumulus regum Norwegie," or, "the tombe of the Kings of Norroway, in the quhilk tombe, as we find in our ancient Eriske cronickells, there layes eight Kings of Norroway, and also we find in our Eriske cronickells, that Coelus, King of Norroway, commandit his nobils to take his bodey and burey it in Colmkill, if it chancit him to die in the isles; bot he was so discomfitit, that ther remained not so many of his army as wold burey him there." By the kings of Norway here mentioned we must of course understand only the kings of the Sudreyjar, or southern islands, and the Irish kings of Norwegian descent. It is in itself very probable that these kings often desired to be buried in Iona, where the first bishops of the proper Sudreyjar, "the bishops of the isles," dwelt, and whose church of St. Mary was consequently the chief church in the islands. The tombs of the kings, however, can at present scarcely be pointed out with certainty; we only know that they must have been in the large and still visible burial-place consecrated to St. Oran. On this place there is likewise a little chapel consecrated to the same saint, which, according to the opinion of some, is of Norwegian workmanship—a point, however, which must be very doubtful.
In the chapel are to be seen the remains of a carved monument erected in the year 1489 to Lachlan Mackinnon (Mac Fingon), and on it, underneath the inscription, is a ship, which is still to be found in the family arms of the Mackinnons, but which is said to have been originally the heraldic bearing of the Norwegian kings in the Isle of Man.
The Island of Iona was of special importance in ancient times, not only to Scotland, but to the Scandinavian North. From it Christianity was assuredly disseminated among the Norwegians in the Sudreyjar, or southern isles, the Orkneys, and the Shetland Isles; whence, again, it was often carried by Vikings and merchants to Norway and Iceland. In the latter place, where not a few men from the southern isles were among the first colonists, there was even a church dedicated to St. Columba. Whilst, therefore, heathen Norwegians plundered and destroyed the churches and convents of Iona, the Christian Norwegians seem to have respected its sanctity. The Sagas, which call it "Eyin helga" (the holy island), state, that the Norwegian king, Magnus Barfod (Barefoot), when in his first expedition to the Sudreyjar and Ireland, in the year 1097, he came to "the holy island," gave all the inhabitants a guaranty of peace and security, and allowed them to retain their possessions. It is also stated that "King Magnus opened the little Kolumkille Church, and went therein; hut that he directly locked the door again, and said that no one should dare to enter; and since that time the church has never been opened."
The Sudreyjar, or Southern Isles.—Cantire.—Islay Man.—Names of
Places.—Runic Stones.—Kings.—Battle of Largs.—" Lords of the Isles."—Tynwald in Man.
Iona was not always accounted one of the northern isles. Farther towards the north, on the north-west coast of Mull, are the islands of Treshinish, and among them a steep rocky island, called Cairnburg, which is said to have formed, at all events at times, the boundary between the northern and southern isles, or Sudreyjar. Cairnburg is accessible only at one spot, and by its height above the sea it forms an important stronghold, which in former times was often numerously garrisoned. The Sagas, which call the island "Bjana," or "Bjarnarborg," state that it was one of those strong fortresses in the southern isles, the surrender of which was in vain demanded by King Alexander the Second of Scotland, from the Norwegian tributary king, Ion Dungadson; and tradition still tells that " the Danes" often fought for the possession of this important place. "The Sudreyjar" (in which, among the larger islands, were included Colonsay, Oransay, Jura, Islay, Arran, Bute, the Cumbr Islands, and likewise the Peninsula of Cantire) are, strictly speaking, far from being so numerous as the northern islands; but in general they are distinguished from these by a richer and more fertile soil, which- is the result of their more southern and more protected situation. This remark applies particularly to the charming islands of Arran (" Hersey "), Bute (" B6t"), and the Cumbr Isles (Kumreyar), which lie eastwards of the Peninsula of Cantire (" Satiri"), at the mouth of the Firth of Clyde; and which, together with the rocks, heaths, and moors of the Highlands, possess the woods and corn-fields of the Lowlands. They also enjoy a fine climate.
But although these last-mentioned islands were often under the dominion of Norwegian kings and jarls, they do not appear to have been inhabited by a settled Norwegian population; at all events, Norwegian names of places have disappeared from them. It is probable that they lay somewhat too near the hostile coasts of Scotland, and somewhat too far from the larger Norwegian colonies, for Norwegian settlers steadily to maintain upon them a position against the Gaels; nay, the Norwegian name, "Kumreyar," the Cumbr Islands, seems to indicate that Cimri or Gaels dwelt upon them.
Names of places on the Peninsula of Cantire, on the contrary, where we find Smerbys (from by), Killipol (from bol), Torrisdale, and the pure Norwegian Skipness, but more particularly on the islands outside the Peninsula, near the west coast of Argyle, indicate a very considerable Norwegian colonization. Not only have several of the small islands Norwegian names, as Scarba (" Skarpey ") and Lunga (" Langey "), but the largest and most fertile of them, Islay (the "II" of the Sagas), which Dean Monro as early as 1594 found to be fruitful, full of good pastures, abounding with large deer, having many forests, excellent hunting, and a river called Laxay (the pure Old N. "Laxa") in which many salmon were caught ("with