Picture of Thomas Pennant

Thomas Pennant

places mentioned

September 5-17: Inveraray to Edinburgh

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Pass between hills finely planted with several sorts of trees, such as Weymouth pines, &c. and after a picturesque ride, reach


Inveraray ,233 the castle the principal seat of the Dukes of Argyle , chief of the Campbells ; was built by Duke Archibald ; is quadrangular with a round tower at each corner; and in the middle rises a square one glazed on every side to give light to the staircase and galleries, and has from without a most disagreeable effect. In the attic story are eighteen good bed-chambers: the ground-floor was at this time in a manner unfurnished, but will have several good apartments. The castle is built of a coarse lapis ollaris ., brought from the other side of Loch-Fine , and is the same kind with that found in Norway , of which the King of Denmark's palace at Copenhagen is built. Near the new castle are some remains of the old.

[Plate XXXI appears near here in the 1800 edition.]


This place will in time be very magnificent: but at present the space between the front and the water is disgraced with the old town, composed of the most wretched hovels that can be imagined. The founder of the castle designed to have built a new town on the west side of the little bay the house stands on: he finished a few houses, a custom-house, and an excellent inn: his death interrupted the completion of the plan, which, when brought to perfection, will give the place a very different appearance to what it now bears.

castle, the lawn sprinkled with fine trees, the hills covered with extensive plantations, a country fertile in corn, bordering on the Loch, and the Loch itself covered with boats. The trees on the lawn about the castle are said to have been planted by the Earl of Argyle : they thrive greatly; for I observed beech from nine to twelve feet and a half in girth, pines nine, and a lesser maple between seven and eight.

But the busy scene of the herring-fishery gave no small improvement to the magnificent environs of Inveraray . Every evening234 some hundreds of boats in a manner, covered the surface of Loch-Fine , an arm of the sea, which, from its narrowness and from the winding of its shores, has all the beauties of a fresh water lake: on the week-days, the chearful noise of the bagpipe and dance echoes from on board: on the sabbath, each boat approaches the land, and psalmody and devotion divide the day; for the common people of the North are disposed to be religious, having the example before them of a gentry untainted by luxury and dissipation, and the advantage of being instructed by a clergy, who are active in their duty, and who preserve respect, amidst all the disadvantages of a narrow income.


The length of Loch-Fine , from the eastern end to the point of Lamond , is above thirty Scotch miles; but its breadth scarce two measured: the depth from sixty to seventy fathoms. It is noted for the vast shoals of herrings that appear here in July and continue till January . The highest season is from September to Christmas , when near fix hundred boats, with four men in each are employed. A chain of nets is used (for several are united) of an hundred fathoms in length. As the herrings swim at very uncertain depths, for the nets are sunk to the depth the shoal is found to take: the success therefore depends much on the judgment or good fortune of the fishers, in taking their due depths; for it often happens that one boat will take multitudes, while the next does not catch a single fish, which makes the boatmen perpetually enquire of each other about the depth of their nets. These are kept up by buoys to a proper pitch; the ropes that run through them fattened with pegs, and by drawing up, or letting out the rope (after taking out the pegs) they adjust their situation, and then replace them. Sometimes the fish swim in twenty fathom water, sometimes in fifty, and oftentimes even at the bottom.

It is computed that each boat gets about 40 l. in the season. The fish are either salted, and packed in barrels for exportation, or sold fresh to the country people, two or three hundred horses being brought every day to the water side, from very distant parts. A barrel holds 500 herrings, if they are of the best kind: at a medium, 700: but if more, for sometimes a barrel will hold 1000, they are reckoned very poor. The present price 1 l. 4 s. per barrel; but there is a drawback of the duty on salt for those that are exported.

The great rendezvous of vessels for the fishery off the western isles is at Cambeltown , in Cantyre , where they clear out on the 12th of September , and sometimes, three hundred busses are seen there at a time: they must return to their different ports by January 13th, where they ought to receive the premium of 2 l. 10 s. per tun of herrings; but it is said to be very ill paid, which is a great discouragement to the fishery.

The herrings of Loch Fine are as uncertain in their migration as they are on the coast of Wales . They had for numbers of years quitted that water; but appeared again there within these dozen years. Such is the case with the lochs on all this western coast, not but people despair too soon of finding them, from one or two unsuccessful tryals in the beginning of the season; perhaps from not adjusting their nets to the depth the fish happen then to swim in: but if each year a small vessel or two was sent to make a thorough tryal in every branch of the sea on this coast, they would undoubtedly find shoals of fish in one or other.


Tunnies ,235 called here Mackrel-Sture , are very frequently caught in the herring season, which they follow to prey on. They are taken with a strong iron hook fastened to a rope and baited with a herring: as soon as hooked lose all spirit, and are drawn up without any resistance: are very active when at liberty, and jump and frolick on the surface of the water.

SEPT. 7.

Crossed over an elegant bridge of three arches upon the Aray , in front of the castle, and kept riding along the side of the Loch for about seven miles: saw in one place a shoal of herrings, close to the surface, perfectly piled on one another, with a flock of Gulls, busied with this offered booty. After quitting the water-side, the road is carried for a considerable way through the bottoms of naked, deep and gloomy glens. Ascend a very high pass with a little loch on the top, and descend into Glen-Crow , the seat of melancholy, seldom cheared with the rays of the sun. Reach the end of Loch-Long , another narrow arm of the sea, bounded by high hills, and after a long course terminates in the Firth of Clyde .


Near this place see a house, very pleasantly situated, belonging to Colonel Campbell , amidst plantations, with some very fertile bottoms adjacent. On ascending a hill not half a mile farther, appears LOCH-LOMOND. North-Britain may well boast of its waters; for so short a ride as thirty miles presents the traveller with the view of four most magnificent pieces. Loch-Aw, Loch-Fine, Loch-Long , and Loch-Lomond . Two indeed are of salt-water; but, by their narrowness, give the idea of fresh-water lakes. It is an idle observation of travellers, that seeing one is the same with seeing all of these superb waters; for almost every one I visited has its proper characters.

Loch-Leven is a broad expanse, with isles and cultivated shores.

Loch-Tay makes three bold windings, has steep but sloping shores, cultivated in many parts, and bounded by vast hills.

Loch-Rannoch is broad and strait, has more wildness about it, with a large natural pine wood on its southern banks.

Loch-Tumel is narrow, confined by the sloping sides of steep hills, and has on its western limits, a flat, rich, wooded, country, watered by a most serpentine stream.

The Loch of Spinie is almost on a flat, and its sides much indented.

Loch-Moy is small, and has soft features on its banks, amidst rude environs.

Loch-Ness is strait and narrow: its shores abound with a wild magnificence, lofty, precipitous and wooded, and has all the greatness of an Alpine lake.

Loch-Oich has lofty mountains at a small distance from its borders; the shores indented, and the water decorated with isles.

Loch-Lochy wants the isles; its shores slope, and several straiths terminate on its banks.

Loch-Aw is long and waving: its little isles tufted with trees, and just appearing above the water, its two great feeds of water at each extremity, and its singular lateral discharge near one of them, sufficiently mark this great lake.


Loch-Lomond , the last, the most beautiful of the Caledonian Loch lakes. The first view of it from Tarbat presents an extensive serpentine winding amidst lofty hills: on the north, barren, black and rocky, which darken with their shade that contracted part of the water. Near this gloomy tract, beneath Craig Roston , was the principal seat of the M'Gregors , a murderous clan, infamous for excesses of all kinds; at length, for a horrible massacre of the Colquhouns ,236 or Cahouns , were proscribed, and hunted down like wild beasts; their very name suppressed by act of council;237 so that the remnant, now dispersed like Jews , dare not even sign it to any deed. Their posterity are still said to be distinguished among the clans in which they have incorporated themselves, not only by the redness of their hair, but by their still retaining the mischievous dispositions of their ancestors.

On the west side, the mountains are cloathed near the bottoms with woods of oak quite to the water edge; their summits lofty, naked and craggy.

On the east side, the mountains are equally high, but the tops, form a more even ridge parallel to the lake, except where Ben-Lomond ,238 like Saul amidst his companions, overtops the rest. The upper parts were black and barren; the lower had great marks of fertility, or at lest of industry, for the yellow corn was finely contrasted with the verdure of the groves intermixed with it.


This eastern boundary is part of the Grampian hills, which extend from hence through the counties of Perth, Angus, Mearns , and Aberdeen . They take their name from only a single hill, the Mons Grampus of Tacitus , where Galgacus waited the approach of Agricola , and where the battle was fought so fatal to the brave Caledonians . Antiquarians have not agreed upon the particular spot; but Mr. Gordon 239 places it near Comrie , at the upper end of Strath-ern , at a place to this day called Galgachan Moor . But to return.

The road runs sometimes through woods, at others is exposed and naked; in some, so steep as to require the support of a wall: the whole the work of the soldiery: blessed exchange of instruments of destruction for those that give safety to the traveller, and a polish to the once inaccessible native.

Two great headlands covered with trees separate the first scene from one totally different; the last is called the Point of Firkin . On passing this cape an expanse of water bursts at once on your eye, varied with all the softer beauties of nature. Immediately beneath is a flat covered with wood and corn: beyond, the headlands stretch far into the water, and consist of gentle risings; many have their surfaces covered with wood, others adorned with trees loosely scattered either over a fine verdure, or the purple bloom of the heath. Numbers of islands are dispersed over the lake of the same elevated form as the little capes, and wooded in the same manner; others just peep above the surface, and are tufted with trees; and numbers are so disposed as to form magnificent vistas between.

Opposite Luss , at a small distance from shore, is a mountainous isle almost covered with wood; is near half a mile long, and has a most fine effect. I could not count the number of islands, but was told there are twenty-eight: the largest two miles long, and stocked with Deer.

The length of this charming lake is 24 Scotch miles; its greatest breadth eight: its greatest depth, which is between the point of Firkin and Ben-Lomond , is a hundred and twenty fathoms. Besides the fish common to the Lochs are Guiniads , called here Poans .

At this time were living at the little village of Luss the following persons, most amazing instances of cotemporary longevity; and perhaps perhaps proofs of the uncommon healthiness of the place. These compose the venerable list:

Rev. Mr. James Robertson , Minister, aged 90.
Mrs. Robertson , his wife, 86.
Anne Sharp , their servant, 94.
Niel Macnaughtan , Kirk-Officer, 86.
Christian Gay , his wife, 94.
Walter Maclellan , 90.

The country from Luss 240 to the Southern extremity of the lake continually improves; the mountains sink gradually into small hills; the land is highly cultivated, well planted, and well inhabited. I was struck with rapture at a sight so long new to me: it would have been without alloy, had it not been dashed with the uncertainty whether the mountain virtue, hospitality, would flourish with equal vigor in the softer scenes I was on the point of entering on; for in the Highlands every house gave welcome to the traveller.

On the road side near Luss is a quarry of most excellent slates and near the side of the lake, about a mile or two farther, is a great heap of stones in memory of St. Mac-Kessog , Bishop and Confessor, who suffered martrydom there A. D. 520, and was buried in Comstraddan church.

The vale between the end of the lake and Dunbarton is unspeakably beautiful, very fertile, and finely watered by the great and rapid river Levin , the discharge of the lake, which, after a short course, drops into the Firth of Clyde below Dunbarton : there is scarcely a spot on its banks but what is decorated with bleacheries, plantations and villas . Nothing can equal the contrast in this day's journey, between the black barren dreary glens of the morning ride, and the soft scenes of the evening, islands worthy of the retreat of Armida , and which Rinaldo himself would have quitted with a sigh.


Before I take my last leave of the Highlands , it will be proper to observe that every entrance into them is strongly marked by nature.

On the South, the narrow and wooded glen near Dunkeld instantly shows the change of country.

On the East, the craggy pass of Bollitir gives a contracted admission into the Grampian hills.

On the North, the mountains near Loch-May appear very near, and form what is properly styled the threshold of the country; and on the

West, the narrow road impending over Loch-Lomond forms a most characteristic entrance to this mountainous tract.

But the Erse or Galic language is not confined within these limits; for it is spoken on all sides beyond these mountains. On the Eastern coast it begins at Nairn ; on the Western, extends over all the isles. It ceases in the North of Cathness , the Orkneys , and the Shetland islands;241 but near Lock-Lomond , is heard at Luss , at Buchanan , East of the lake, and at Roseneth , West of it.

The traveller, who has leisure, should ride to the eminence of Millegs , to see the rich prospect between Loch-Lomond and the Clyde . One way is seen part of the magnificent lake, Ben-Lomond and the vast mountains above Glen-Crow . On the other hand appears a fine reach of the Clyde enlivened with shipping, a view of the pretty seats of Roseneth and Ardincapel , and the busy towns of Port-Glasgow and Greenock .

Cross the ferry over the Levin at Bonnel , and after a ride of three miles reach


Dunbarton , a small but good old town, seated on a plain near the conflux of the Levin with the Firth of Clyde ; it consists principally of one large street in form of a crescent. On one side is the Tolbooth , and at the South end the church with a small spire steeple; it had been collegiate, was founded about 1450 by Isabel Countess of Lenox and Dutchess of Albany , and was dedicated to St. Patrick , who was born in this county. The waites of the town are bag-pipes, which go about at nine o'clock at night and five in the morning.


The castle is seated a little South of the town on a two-headed rock of a stupendous height, rising in a strange manner out of the sands, and totally detached from every thing else; is bounded on one side by the Clyde , on the other by the Levin . On one of the summits are the remains of an old light-house, which some suppose to have been a Roman Pharos ; on the other, the powder magazine: in the hollow between is a large well of water fourteen feet deep. The sides of the rocks are immense precipices, and often over-hang, except on the side where the Governor's house stands, which is defended by walls and a few cannon, and garrisoned by a few invalids. It seems to have been often used as a state prison: the Regent Morton was secured there previous to his tryal. From its natural strength, it was in former times deemed impregnable; so that the desperate but successful scalado of it in 1571242 may vie with the greatest attempts of that kind, with the capture of the Numidian fortress, in the Jugurthine war, by Marius ; of the more horrible surprize of Fescamp ,243 by the gallant Bois-rose .

The Britons in very early times made this rock a fortress; for it was usual with them after the departure of the Romans to retreat to the tops of craggy inaccessible mountains, to forests, and to rocks on the shores of the sea: but Boethius makes the Scots possessed of it some ages prior to that, and pretends that it resisted all the efforts of Agricola , who laid siege to it. It certainly may clame a right to great antiquity, for Bede declares it to have been the best fortified city the Britons had during his days. Its antient name was Alcluid , or Arcluid , or the place on the Cluid . But in after-times it acquired the name of Dun-Britton , being the last place in these parts held by the Britons against the usurping Saxons . In 756, reduced by famine, it was surrendered to Edbert King of Northumberland .


From the summit of this rock is a fine view of the country, of the town of Dunbarton , the river Levin , the Firth of Clyde (the Glota of Tacitus) here a mile broad, and of the towns of Greenock and Port-Glasgow , on the opposite shore. The business of this country is the spinning of thread, which is very considerable. There is also a great salmon-fishery: but in this populous country, so great is the demand for them that none can be spared for curing. Gilses come up the river in June , and continue in plenty about twenty days; and many Salmon Trout are taken from March to July. Phinocs , called here Yellow Fins, come in July , and continue about the same space of time as the Gilses: the fishermen call them the young of some great Sea Trout. During May, Parrs appear in such numbers in the Levin , that the water seems quite animated with them. There are besides in that river, Perch and a few Poans .244

SEPT. 8.

Pass by the ruins of Dunglas castle, near the banks of the Clyde , which meanders finely along a rich plain full of barley and oats, and much inclosed with good hedges, a rarity in North Britain . At a distance are some gentle risings, interspersed with woods and villas belonging to the citizens of Glasgow . Cross the water of Kelvin at the village of Partic , and soon after reach


GLASGOW. The best built of any modern second-rate city I ever saw: the houses of stone, and in a good taste. The principal street runs East and West, and is near a mile and a half long; but unfortunately, is not strait. The Tolbooth is large and handsome. Next to that is the Exchange: within is a spacious room with full-length portraits of all our monarchs since James I.; and an excellent, one, by Ramsay , of Archibald Duke of Argyle , in a Judge's robe. Before the Exchange is a large equestrian statue of King William . This is the broadest and finest part of the street: many of the houses are built over piazzas, but too narrow to be of much service to walkers. Numbers of other streets cross this at right angles, and are in general well built.


The market-places are great ornaments to this city, the fronts being done in a very fine taste, and the gates adorned with columns of one or other of the orders. Some of these markets are for meal, greens, fish, or flesh. There are two for the last which have conduits out of several of the pillars; so that they are constantly kept sweet and clean.

Near the meal-market is a publick granary, to be filled on any apprehension of scarceness.

The guard-house is in the great street, which is kept by the inhabitants, who regularly do duty. An excellent police is observed here, and proper officers attend the markets to prevent any abuses.

The old bridge over the Clyde consists of eight arches, and was built 400 years ago by Bishop Rea : another is now built. The tide flows three miles higher up the country; but at low water is fordable. There is a plan for deepening the channel; for at present the tide brings up only very small vessels; and the ports belonging to this city lie several miles lower, at Port-Glasgow and Greenock , on the side of the Firth .

Near the bridge is a large alms-house, a vast nailery, a stoneware manufacture, and a great porter brewery, which supplies some part of Ireland . Within sight, on the South side, are collieries; and much coal is exported into the last-mentioned island, and into America .


The great imports of this city are tobacco and sugar: of the former, above 40,000 hogsheads have been annually imported and most part of it again exported into France and other countries. The manufactures here are linnens, cambricks,245 lawns, tapes, fustians, and striped linnens; so that it already begins to rival Manchester , and has in point of the conveniency of its ports, in respect to America , a great advantage over it.


The College is a large building, with a handsome front to the street, resembling some of the old colleges in Oxford . Charles I. subscribed 200 l. towards this work, but was prevented by the troubles from paying it; but Cromwell afterwards fulfilled the design of the royal donor. It was founded in 1450, by James II. Pope Nicholas V. gave the bull , but Bishop Turnbull supplied the money. There are about 400 students belonging to the college, who lodge in the town: but the Professors have good houses in the college. Young gentlemen of fortune have private tutors, who have an eye to their, conduct; the rest, live entirely at their own discretion.

The library is a very handsome room, with a gallery round it, supported by pillars. That beneficent nobleman the first Duke of Chandos , when he visited the college, gave 500 l. towards building this apartment.

Messrs. Robert and Andrew Foulis , printers and booksellers to the university, have instituted an academy for painting and engraving; and like good citizens, zealous to promote the welfare and honor of their native place, have at a trans formed a most numerous collection of paintings from abroad, in order to form the taste of their eleves .

The printing is a very considerable branch of business, and has long been celebrated for the beauty of the types and the correctness of the editions. Here are preserved in cases numbers of monumental and other stones,246 taken out of the walls on the Roman stations in this part of the kingdom; some are well cut and ornamented: most of them were done to perpetuate the memory of the vexillatio , or party, who performed such or such works; others in memory of officers who died in the country.


The cathedral is a large pile, now divided into two churches. Beneath, and deep underground, is another, in which is also divine service, where the congregation may truely say, clamavi e profundis ; the roof is fine, made of stone and supported by pillars; but the beauty much hurt by the crowding of the pews. Near this is the ruin of the castle, or Bishop's palace.

The new church is a very handsome building with a large elegant porch; but the outside is much disfigured by a slender square tower: and in general, the steeples of North Britain are in a remarkable bad taste, being, in fact, no favorite part of architecture with the church of Scotland . The inside of that just spoken of is most neatly finished, supported by pillars, and very prettily stuccoed: it is one of the very few exceptions to the slovenly and indecent manner in which Presbytery keeps the houses of God: reformation in manners of religion seldom observes mediocrity: here it was outrageous; for a place of worship commonly neat was deemed to savor of popery: but, to avoid the imputation of that extreme, they run into another; for in many parts of Scotland our Lord seems still to be worshipped in a stable, and often in a very wretched one. Many of the churches are thatched with heath, and in some places are in such bad repair as to be half open at top; so that the people appear to worship, as the Druids did of old, in open temples.

SEPT. 10.

Went to see Hamilton House, twelve miles distant from Glasgow : ride through a rich and beautiful corn country, adorned with small woods, gentlemen's seats, and well watered. Hereabout I saw the first muddy stream since I had left Edinburgh ; for the Highland rivers running generally through a bed of rock or pure gravel, receive no other teint, in the greatest floods, than the brown crystalline tinge of the moors, out of which they rise.


See on the West, at a little distance from the road, the ruins of Bothwell castle, and the bridge, remarkable for the Duke of Monmouth's victory over the Rebels in 1679. The church was collegiate, founded by Archibald Earl of Douglas , 1398, and is, as I heard,247 oddly incrusted with a thin coat of stone.


Hamilton House, or Palace, as it is called here, is seated at the end of a small town; is a large disagreeable pile of building, with two deep wings at right angles with the centre. The gallery is of great extent, and furnished (as well as some other rooms) with most excellent paintings: that of Daniel in the Lion's den, by Rubens , is a great performance. The fear and devotion of the Prophet is finely expressed by his uplifted face and eyes, his clasped hands, his swelling muscles, and the violent extension of one foot: a Lion looks fiercely at him with open mouth, and seems only restrained by the Almighty power from making him fall a victim to his hunger; and the signal deliverance of Daniel is more fully marked by the number of human bones scattered over the floor, as if to shew the instant fate of others, in whose favor the Deity did not interfere.

The marriage-feast, by Paul Veronese , is a fine piece; and the obstinacy and resistance of the intruder, who came without the wedding garment, is strongly expressed.

The treaty of peace between England and Spain in the reign of James I. by Juan de Pantoxa , is a good historical picture. There are six Envoys on the part of the Spaniards , and five on that of the English , with their names inscribed over each: the English are the Earls of Dorset, Nottingham, Devonshire, Northampton , and Robert Cecil .

Earls of Lauderdale and Lanerk settling the covenant, both in black, with faces full of puritanical solemnity.

Several of the Dukes of Hamilton, James Duke of Hamilton , with a blue ribband and white rod. His son, beheaded in 1649. His brother, killed at the battle of Worcester . The Duke who fell in the duel with Lord Mohun .

Fielding , Earl of Denbigh ;248 his hair grey, a gun in his hand, and attended by an Indian boy. It seems perfectly to start from the canvass, and the action of his countenance looking up has matchless matchless spirit. His daughter, and her husband, the Marquise of Hamilton .

Old Duke of Chatelherault , in black, with an order about his neck.

Two half-lengths in black; one with a fiddle in his hand, the other in a grotesque attitude; both with the same countenances; good, but swarthy; mistakenly called David Rizzo's ; but I could not learn that there was any portrait of that unfortunate man.

Maria Dei Gratia Scotorum Regina , 1586. Æt . 43. a half-length; a stiff figure, in a great ruff, auburne hair, oval but pretty full face, of much larger and plainer features than that at Castle Braan , a natural alteration from the increase of her cruel usage, and of her ill health; yet still with a resemblance to that portrait. It was told me here, that she sent this picture, together with a ring, to the Duke of Hamilton , a little before her execution.

A head, said to be Anna Bullen , very handsome, dressed in a ruff and kerchief edged with ermine, and in a purple gown; over her face a veil, so transparent as not to conceal

The bloom of young desire and purple light of love.

Earl Morton , Regent of Scotland .

The rough reformer John Knox .

Lord Belhaven , author of the famous speech against the union.

Philip II. at full length, with a strange figure of Fame bowing at his feet with a label and this motto, Pro merente adsto .


About a mile from the house, on an eminence, above a deep wooded glen, with the Avon at its bottom, is Chatelherault ; so called from the estate the family once possessed in France : is an elegant banqueting-house, with a dog-kennel, gardens, &c. and commands a fine view of the country. The park is now much inclosed: but I am told, that there are still in it a few of the breed of the wild cattle, which Boethius 249 says were peculiar to the Caledonian forest, were of a snowy whiteness, and had manes like lions: they were at this time in a distant part of the park, and I lost the sight of them.

Returned to Glasgow .

SEPT. 11.

Crossed the country towards Sterling . Passed through the village of Kylsithe , noted for a victory gained by Montrose over the Covenanters. Thro' a bog, where numbers of the fugitives perished, is now cutting part of the canal that is to join the Firths of Forth and Clyde . Saw the spot where the battle of Bannocbourne was fought, in which the English under Edward II, had a shameful defeat. Edward was so assured of conquest, that he brought with him William Boston , a Carmelite , and famous poet, to celebrate his victory; but the monarch was defeated, and the poor bard taken and forced by the conqueror, invitâ Minerva , to sing his success, which he did in such lines as these:

Hic capit, hic rapit, hic terit, hic ferit, ecce dolores;
Vox tonat; æs sonat; hic ruit; hic luit; arcto modo res.
Hic secat; hic necat; hic docet; hic nocet; iste sugatur
Hic latet, hic patet; hic premit, hic gemit; hic superatur.

At this place that unfortunate monarch James III, was defeated by his rebellious subjects; in his flight fell down from his horse, and bruised by his fall was drawn into a neighboring mill, and soon after assassinated by a priest called in to receive his confession, and afford him spiritual assistance.


Went through the small town of St. Ninian ,250 a mile South of Sterling . The church had been the powder-magazine of the Rebels, who, on their return, blew it up in such haste, as to destroy some of their own people, and about fifteen innocent spectators.


Sterling and its castle, in respect of situation, is a miniature of Edinburgh ; is placed on a ridged hill, or rock, rising out of a plain, having the castle at the upper end on a high precipitous rock. Within its walls was the palace of several of the Scotch Kings, a square building, ornamented on three sides with pillars resting on grotesque figures projecting from the wall, and on the top of each pillar is a statue, seemingly the work of fancy. Near it is the old parlement house, a vast room 120 feet long, very high, with a timbered roof, and formerly had a gallery running round the inside. Below the castle are the ruins of the palace belonging to the Earls of Mar , whose family had once the keeping of this fortress. There are still the Erskine arms and much ornamental carving on parts of it. The town of Sterling is inclosed with a wall; the streets are irregular and narrow, except that which leads to the castle. Here, and at the village of Bannocbourne , is a considerable manufacture of coarse carpets.

Sterling Castle.

From the top of the castle is by far the finest view in Scotland . To the East is a vast plain rich in corn, adorned with woods, and watered with the river Forth , whose meanders are, before it reaches the sea, so frequent and so large, as to form a multitude of most beautiful peninsulas; for in many parts the windings approximate so close as to leave only a little isthmus of a few birds. In this plain is an old abby, a view of Alloa, Clackmannan, Falkirk , the Firth of Forth , and the country as far as Edinburgh . On the North, the Ochil hills, and the moor where the battle of Dumblain was fought. To the West, the strath of Menteith , as fertile as the Eastern plain, and terminated by the Highland mountains, among which the summit of Ben-Lomond is very conspicuous.

The Sylva Caledonia , or Caledonian Forest, begun a little North of Sterling , and passing through Menteith and Strathern , extended, according to Boethius , as far as Athol on one side, and Lochaber on the other. It is very slightly mentioned by the antients;251 but the supposed extent is given by the Scottish historian.


Lie at Falkirk , a large ill-built town, supported by the great fairs for black cattle from the Highlands, it being computed that 24,000 head are annually sold here. There is also a great deal of money got here by the carriage of goods, landed at Carron wharf, to Glasgow . Such is the increase of trade in this country, that about twenty years ago not three carts could be found in the town, and at present there are above a hundred that are supported by their intercourse with Glasgow .

In the church-yard, on a plain stone, is the following epitaph on John de Graham , styled the right hand of the gallant Wallace , killed at the battle of Falkirk in 1298:252

Here lies Sir John the Grame both wight and wife,
Ane of the chief reskewit Scotland thrise.
Ane better knight not to the world was lent
Nor was gude Grame of trueth, and of hardiment.
        Mente manuque potens, et VALLÆ fidus Achates
        Conditur hic
Gramus bello interfectus ab Anglis.
        22 Julii . 1298.

Near this is another epitaph, occasioned by a second battle of Falkirk , as disgraceful to the English as the other was fatal to the Scots : the first was a well disputed combat; the last, a pannic on both sides, for part of each army flew, the one West, the other East, each carrying the news of their several defeats, while the total destruction of our forces was prevented by the gallant behaviour of a brigadier, who with two regiments faced such of the rebels as kept the field, and prevented any further advantages. The epitaph I allude to is in memory of Sir Robert Monro ,253 the worthy chieftain of that loyal clan, a family which lost three brothers the same year in support of the royal cause. Sir Robert being greatly wounded in the battle was murthered in cool blood, by the Rebels, with his brother Dr. Monro , who with fraternal piety was at that time dressing his wounds: the third was assassinated by mistake for one who well deserved his death for spontaneous barbarities on Highlanders approaching according to proclamation to surrender their arms.

I have very often mentioned fields of battle in this part of the kingdom: scarce a spot has escaped unstained with gore; for had they no publick enemy to contend with, the Scots , like the Welsh of old, turned their arms against each other.


Carron iron-works lie about a mile from Falkirk , and are the greatest of the kind in Europe : they were founded about eight years ago, before which there was not a single house, and the country a mere moor. At present, the buildings of all forts are of vast extent, and above twelve hundred men are employed. The iron is smelted from the stone, then cast into cannon, pots, and all sorts of utensils made in founderies. This work has been of great service to the country, by teaching the people industry and a method of setting about any sort of labor, which before the common people had [word unclear] any notion of.

Carron wharf lies on the Forth , and is not only useful to the works, but of great service even to Glasgow , as considerable quantities of goods destined for that city are landed there. The canal likewise begins in this neighborhood, which, when effected, will prove another benefit to these works.


At a small distance from the founderies, on a little rising above the river Carron , stood that celebrated antiquity called Arthur's Oven, which the ingenious Mr Gordon 254 supposes to have been a sacellum , or little chapel, a repository for the Roman Insignia , or standards: but, to the mortification of every curious traveller, this matchless edifice is now no more; its barbarous owner, a Gothic knight, caused it to be demolished, in order to make a mill-dam with the materials, which, within less than a year, the Naiades , in resentment of the sacrilege, came down in a flood and entirely swept away.

SEPT. 12.

Saw near Callendar -House some part of Antoninus's Wall, or, as it is called here, Graham's Dyke.255 The vallum and the ditch are here very evident, and both are of a great size, the last being forty feet broad and thirteen deep; it extended from the Firth of Forth to that of Clyde , and was defended at proper distances by forts and watchtowers, the work of the Roman legions under the command of Lollius Urbicus , in the reign of Antoninus Pius . According to Mr. Gordon , it began at old Kirk Patrick on the Firth of Clyde , and ended two miles West of Abercorn , on the Firth of Forth , being in length 36 miles, 887 paces.


Passed thro' Burrowstoness , a town on the Firth, inveloped in smoke from the great salt-pans and vast collieries near it. The town-house is built in form of a castle. There is a good quay, much frequented by shipping; for considerable quantities of coal are sent from hence to London ; and there are besides some Greeenland ships256 belonging to the town.

Ride near Abercorn , called by Bede the monastery of Abercurnig ; of which no mention is made in the accounts of the Scotch religious houses: nor has there been for many centuries the lest remains; for Buchanan says that none of any kind were to be met with even in his time, except the ruins of a tower belonging to the Douglases .


Reach Hopeton-House , the seat of the Earl of Hopeton ; a house begun by Sir William Bruce , and finished by Mr. Adams : is the handsomest I saw in North Britain : the front is enriched with pilasters; the wings at some distance joined to it by a beautiful colonade: one wing is the stables, the other the library. In the last is a single piece of lead ore weighing five tuns, got out of his Lordship's mines at the Lead-hills .

The great improvements round the house are very extensive; but the gardens are still in the old taste: trees and shrubs succeed here greatly; among others were two Portugal laurels thirty feet high. Nothing can equal the grandeur of the approach to the house, or the prospect from it. The situation is bold, on an eminence, commanding a view of the Firth of Forth , bounded on the North by the county of Fife ; the middle is chequered with islands, such as Garvey, Inch Keith ,257 and others; and on the South-East is a vast command of East Lothian , and the terminating object the great conic hill of North Berwick .

The whole ride from Sterling to Queen's Ferry (near Hopeton -House) is not to be paralleled for the elegance and variety of its prospects: the whole is a composition of all that is great and beautiful: towns, villages, seats, and antient towers, decorate each bank of that fine expanse of water the Firth : while the busy scenes of commerce and rural economy are no small addition to the still life. The lofty mountains of the Highlands form a distant but august boundary towards the North-West; and the Eastern view is enlivened with ships perpetually appearing or vanishing amidst the numerous isles.

Pass by Queen's-Ferry ; fall into the Edinburgh road, and finish this evening, in that capital, a most agreeable and prosperous Tour. It was impossible not to recal the idea of what I had seen; to imagine the former condition of this part of the kingdom, and to compare it with the present state, and by a sort of second-sight make a probable conjecture of the happy appearance it will assume in a very few years. Nor could I forbear repeating the prophetic lines258 of Aaron Hill , who seemed seized with a like reverie .

Once more! O North, I view thy winding shores,
Climb thy bleak hills and cross thy dusky moors.
Impartial view thee with an heedful eye.
Yet still by nature, not by censure try.
England thy sister is a gay coquet,
Whom art enlivens, and temptations whet:
Rich, proud, and wanton, she her beauty knows,
And in a conscious warmth of beauty glows:
Scotland comes after like an unripe fair,
Who fights with anguish at her sister's air;
Unconscious, that she'll quickly have her day,
And be the toast when Albion's charms decay.

233 In the Galic, Inner-aora .

234 The fishery is carried on in the night, the herrings being then in motion.

235 Br. Zool. III. No. 153.

236 Vide Appendix.

237 In the 1st of Charles I. c. 30. there was a strict act against these people confirming all former acts of council against them, suppressing the name, and obliging them to make compearance yearly on the 24th of July before the council after sixteen years of age, to find caution, or otherwayes if they be denounced for their failzy, declaring them to be intercommuned, and that none resort or assist them; and the act constitutes several justices in that part against them. In 1661, this act was rescinded, but revived again in the first parlement of William and Mary , and the act recissory annulled. Abridg. Acts of Parlement . 45. I think that the act has been lately wholly repealed.

238 Its height is 3240 feet.

239 Itin. Septent . 39. The reasons against the opinion of this able antiquary will be given in the other volumes.

240 A tolerable inn on the borders of the lake.

241 In the Shetland isles are still some remains of the Norse , or old Norwegian language.

242 Robertson's hist. Scotland , II. octavo. Guthrie's , VII. 331.

243 Sully's Memoirs, Vol . I. Book VI.

244 At Dunbarton I was informed by persons of credit, that Swallows have often been taken in midwinter, in a torpid state, out of the steeple of the church, and also out of a sand-bank over the river Endrich , near Loch-Lomond .

245 The greatest cambrick manufacture is now at Paisly , a few miles from this city.

246 Several have been engraven by the artists of the academy. The Provost of the University did me the honor of presenting me with a set.

247 Bishop Pocock's manuscript Journal .

248 The person who shewed the house called him Governor of Jamaica ; but that must be a mistake. If any errors appear in my account of any of the pictures, I flatter myself it may be excused; for sometimes they were shewn by servants; sometimes the owners of the house were so obliging as to attend me, whom I could not trouble with a number of questions.

249 Gignere solet ca silva boves candidissimes in formam Leonis jubam habentes, cætera mansuetis simillimos verò adeo feres, &c. Descr. Regni Scotiæ, fol, xi.

250 Apostle of the Picts , son of a Prince of the Cumbrian Britains , converting the Picts as far as the Grampian hills. Died 432.

251 By Pliny, lib . iv. c . 16. and Eumenius , in his Panegyric on Costantius, c. 7.

252 Fought between Falkirk and Carron works, at a place called to this day Graham's Moor.


Conditur heic quod poterit mori
ROBERTI MONRO de Foulis , Eq. Bar.
Gentis sui Principis
Militum Tribuni:
Vita in castris curiaque Britannica
Honeste producta
Pro Libertate religione Patriæ
In acie honestissime defuncta
Prope FALKIRK Jan . xviii. 1746. Æt. 62.
Virtutis consiliique fama
In Montanorum cohortis Præectura
Quamdiu prælium FONTONÆUM memorabitur
Ob amicitiam et fidem amicis
Humanitatem clementiamque adversariia
Benevolentiam bonitatemque omnibus,
Trucidantibus etiam,
In perpetuum desideranda.
DUNCANUS MONRO de Obsdale , M. D. Æt. 59.
Frater Fratrem linquere fugiens,
Saucium curans, ictus inermis
Commoriens cohonestat Urnam.

254 Itin. Septentr. p . 24. tab . iv. As the book is very scarce, I have taken the liberty of having that plate copied into this work.

255 So called from Graham , who is said to have first made a breach in this wall soon after the retreat of the Romans out of Britain. Vide Boethius , CXXXI.

256 This year the whale-fishery began to revive; which for a few years past had been so unsuccessful, that several of the adventurers had thoughts of disposing of their ships. Perhaps the whales had till this year deserted those seas; for Marten , p. 185 of his voyage to Spitsbergen , remarks, "That these animals, either weary of their place, or sensible of their own danger, do often change their harbours."

257 This isle is opposite to Leith . By order of council, in 1497, all venereal patients in the neighbourhood were transported there, Ne quid detrimenti res publica caperet . It is remarkable, that this disorder, which was thought to have appeared in Europe only four years before, should make so quick a progress. The horror of a disease, for which there was then supposed to be no cure, must have occasioned this attention to stop the contagion; for even half a century after, one of the first monarchs of Europe, Francis I. fell a victim to it. The order is so curious that we have given it a place in the Appendix.

258 Written on a window in North Britain .

Thomas Pennant, A Tour in Scotland 1769 (London: Benjamin White, 1776)

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