Picture of Thomas Pennant

Thomas Pennant

places mentioned

August 7-13: Aberdeen and the North East

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AUG. 7.

The nearer to Aberdeen , the lower the country grows, and the greater the quantity of corn: in general, oats and barley; for there is very little wheat sown in those parts. Reach


Aberdeen, a fine city, lying on a small bay, formed by the Dee , deep enough for ships of two hundred tuns. The town is about two miles in circumference, and contains thirteen thousand souls, and about three thousand in the suburbs; but the whole number of inhabitants between the bridges Dee and Don , which includes both the Aberdeens , and the interjacent houses or hamlets, is estimated at twenty thousand. It once enjoyed a good share of the tobacco trade, but was at length forced to resign it to Glasgow , which was so much more conveniently situated for it. At present, its imports are from the Baltic , and a few merchants trade to the West Indies and North America . Its exports are, stockings, thread, salmon, and oatmeal: the first is a most important article, as appears by the following state of it. For this manufacture, 20,800 pounds worth of wool is annually imported, and 1600 pounds worth of oil. Of this wool is annually made 69,333 dozen pairs of stockings, worth, at an average 1l. 10s. per dozen. These are made by the country people, in almost all parts of this great county, who get 4 s. per dozen for spinning, and 14s. per dozen for knitting, so that there is annually paid them 62,329l. 14s. And besides, there is about 2000l. value of stockings manufactured from the wool of the county, which encourages the breed of sheep much; for even as high as Invercauld , the farmer sells his sheep at twelve shillings apiece, and keeps them till they are four or five years old, for the sake of the wool. About 200 combers are also employed constantly. The thread manufacture is another considerable article, tho' trifling in comparison of the woollen.

I. Thorney Crab.   II. Cordated Crab..


The salmon fisheries on the Dee and the Don , are a good branch of trade: about 46 boats, and 130 men are employed on the first; and in some years 167,000lb. of fish have been sent pickled to London , and about 930 barrels of salted fish exported to France, Italy , &c. The fishery on the Don is far less considerable. About the time of Henry VIII. this place was noted for a considerable trade in dried cod-fish, at that period known by the name of Habberdyn fish.

The town of Aberdeen is in general well built, with granite from the neighboring quarries. The best street, or rather place , is the Castle-street: in the middle is an octagon building, with neat bas relievos of the Kings of Scotland , from James I. to James VII. The Town house makes a good figure, and has a handsome spire in the centre.

The East and West churches are under the same roof; for the North Britons observe œconomy, even in their religion: in one I observed a small ship hung up; a votive offering frequent enough in Popish churches, but appeared very unexpectedly here. But I am now satisfied that the ship only denotes the right the mariners have to a sitting place beneath.


In the church-yard lies Andrew Cant , minister of Aberdeen , from Ahdrbw Cami> whom the spectator derives the word to cant ; but in all probability, Andrew canted no more than the rest of his brethren, for he lived in a whining age;133 the word therefore seems to be derived from canto , from their singing out their discourses. The inscription on his monument speaks of him in very high terms, styles him vir suo seculo summus, qui orbi huic et urbi ecclesiastes, voce et vita inclinatam religionem sustinuit, degeneres mundi mores resinxit, ardens et amans , BOANERGES et BARNABAS, MAGNES et ADAMUS, &c. &c.

In the same place are multitudes of long-winded epitaphs; but the following, though short, has a most elegant turn:

Si fides, si humanitas, multoque gratus lepore candor;
Si suorum amor, amicorum charitas, omniumque Bene-
                volentia spiritum reducere pojfent,
Hand heic situs esset
Johannes Burnet a Elrick. 1747.


The college is a large old building, founded by George Earl of Marechal , 1593. On one side is this strange inscription; probably alluding to some scoffers at that time:

They have seid,
Quhat say thay?
Let Yame say.

In the great room are several good pictures. A head of the Founder. The present Lord Marechal when young, and General Keith , his brother. Bishop Burnet in his robes, as Chancellor of the Garter. A head of Mary Stuart , in black, with a crown in one hand, a crucifix in the other. Arthur Johnston , a fine head, by Jameson. Andrew Cant , by the same. Gordon , of Strachloch , published of the maps; Doctor Gregory , author of the reflecting telescope; and several others, by Jameson .

In the library is the alcoran on vellum, finely illuminated.

A Hebrew Bible, Manuscript, with Rabbinical notes, on vellum.

Isidori excerpta ex libro ; a great curiosity, being a complete history, with figures, richly illuminated on squares of plated gold, on vellum.

A Paraphrase on the Revelation, by James VI. with notes, in the King's own hand.

A fine missal.

There are about a hundred and forty students belonging to this college.

The convents in Aberdeen were; one of Mathurines , or of the order of the Trinity, founded by William the Lion , who died in 1214: another of Dominicans , by Alexander II.: a third of Observantines , a building of great length in the middle of the city, founded by the citizens, and Mr. Richard Vaus , &c.: and a fourth of Carmelites , or White Friers, founded by Philip de Arbuthnot , in 1350. In the ruins of this was discovered a very curious silver chain, six feet long, with a round plate at one end, and at the other a pear-shaped appendage; which is still preserved in the library.


The grammar-school is a low but neat building. Gordon's hospital is handsome; in front is a good statue of the founder: it maintains forty boys, children of the inhabitants of Aberdeen , who are apprenticed at proper ages.

The infirmary is a large plain building, and sends out between eight and nine hundred cured patients annually.

On the side of the Great Bleachery, which is common to the town, are the public walks. Over a road, between the Castle-street and the Harbour, is a very handsome arch, which must attract the attention of the traveller.

On the East of the town is a work begun by Cromwel , from whence is a fine view of the sea: beneath is a small patch of ground, noted for producing very early barley, which was then reaping.


Prices of provisions in this town were these: Beef, (16 ounces to the pound) 2 d. ½ to 5 d.; mutton the same; butter, (28 ounces to the pound) 6 d. to 8 d.; cheese, ditto, 4 d. to 4 d. ½; a large pullet, 6 d. or 10 d. duck, the same; goose, 2s. 3 d.


Cross the harbour to the granite quarries that contribute to supply London with paving stones. The stone lies either in large nodules or in shattery beds; are cut into shape, and the small pieces for the middle of the streets are put on board for seven shillings per tun, the long stones at ten-pence per foot.

The bridge of Dee lies about two miles S. of the town, and consists of seven neat arches: before the building of that of Perth , it was esteemed the finest structure of the kind in North Britain . It was founded, and is still supported by funds destined for that purpose by Bishop Elphinston . The following inscription the buttress of a ruinous isle in the cathedral of old Aberdeen informs us of the architect:—"Thomas , the son of Thomas French , master mason, who built the bridge of Dee and this isle, is enterred at the foot hereof, who died Anno 1530."


Visited old Aberdeen , about a mile North of the new, a poor town, seated not far from the Don . The college is built round a square, with cloisters on the South side. The chapel is very ruinous within; but there still remains some wood-work of exquisite workmanship. This was preserved by the spirit of the Principal at the time of the reformation, who armed his people and checked the blind zeal of the Barons of the Mearns , who after striping the cathedral of its roof, and robbing it of the bells, were going to violate this seat of learning. They shipped their sacrilegious booty with an intention of exposing it to sale in Holland ;134 but the vessel had scarcely gone out of port, but it perished in a storm with all its ill gained lading.

The college was founded in 1494 by William Elphinston bishop of this place, and Lord Chancellor of Scotland in the reign of James III.; and Lord Privy Seal in that of James IV. He was a person of such eminence, that his cotemporaries firmly believed that his death was presaged by various prodigies, and that supernatural voices were heard at his interrment, as if Heaven more peculiarly interested itself in the departure of so great a character.135

The library is large. The most remarkable things areUp John Trevisa's translation of Higden's Polychronicon , in 1387; the manuscript excellently wrote, and the language very good, for that time. A very neat Dutch missal, with elegant paintings on the margin. Another, of the angels appearing to the shepherds, with one of the men playing on the bagpipes. A manuscript catalogue of the old treasury of the college.

Hector Boethius was the first Principal of the college, and sent for from Paris for that purpose, on an annual salary of forty marks Scots , at thirteen-pence each. The square tower on the side of the college was built by contributions from General Monk and the Officers under him, then quartered at Aberdeen , for the reception of students; of which there are about a hundred belonging to the college, who lie in it.

In Bishop Elphinston's hall is a picture of Bishop Dunbar , who finished the bridge of Dee , and completed every thing else that the other worthy Prelate had begun. Besides this are portraits of Forbes , Bishop of Aberdeen , and Professors Sandiland and Gordon , by Jameson . The Sybils : said to be done by the same hand, but seemed to me in too different a style to be his; but the Sybilla Ægyptiaca and Erythra&ligae; are in good attitudes.

The cathedral is very antient; no more than the two very antique spires and one isle, which is used as a church, are now remaining. This Bishoprick was founded in the time of David I. who translated it from Mortlick in Bamffshire to this place.

From a tumulus , called Tillie dron , now covered with trees, is a fine view of an extensive and rich country; once a most barren spot, but by the industry of the inhabitants brought to its present state. A pretty vale bordered with wood, the cathedral soaring above the trees, and the river Don , form all together a most agreeable prospect. These are comprehended in the pleasure grounds of Seaton , the house of George Middleton , Esq; which lies well sheltered in the North-West corner of the valley, and was probably the first villa built in the North of Scotland according to the present idea of elegance.


Beneath are some cruives, or wears, to take salmon in. The owners are obliged by law to make the rails of the cruives136 of a certain width, to permit fish of a certain size to pass up the river; but as that is neglected, they pay an annual sum to the owners of the fisheries which lie above, to compensate the loss.

In the Regiam Majestatem are preserved several antient laws relating to the salmon fisheries, couched in terms expressive of the simplicity of the times.

From Saturday night till Monday morning, they were obliged to leave a free passage for the fish, which is styled the Saterdayes Sloppe .137

Alexander I. enacted,

That the streame of the water sal be in all parts swa free, that ane swine of the age of three zeares, well feed, may turne himself within the streame round about, swa that his snowt nor taill fall not touch the bank of the water.

Slayers of reide fish or smoltes of salmond, the third time are punished with death. And sic like he quha commands the samine to be done. [Jac . IV. parl . 6. stat. Rob . III.]

AUG. 9.

Continue my journey: pass over the bridge of Don ; a fine gothic arch flung over that fine river, from one rock to the other; the height from the top of the arch to the water is sixty feet; its width seventy-two. It was built by Henry de Cheyn bishop of Aberdeen and nephew to John Cummin Lord of Badenoch , who suffering exile for his attachment to the faction of the Cummins , on his being restored to his see, applied all the profits that had accumulated during his absence, towards this magnificent work.138


Ride for some miles on the sea sands; pass through Newburgh , a small village, and at low water ford the Ythen , a river productive of the pearl muscle: go through the parish of Furvie , now entirely overwhelmed with sand, (except two farms) and about 500 l. per ann . lost to the Errol family, as appears by the oath of the factor, made before the court of sessions in 1600, to ascertain the minister's salary. It was at that time all arable land, now covered with shifting sands, like the deserts of Arabia , and no vestiges remain of any buildings, except a small fragment of the church.

The country now grows very flat; produces oats; but the crops are considerably worse than in the preceding country. Reach Bowness , or Buchaness , the seat of the Earl of Errol , perched, like a Falcon's nest, on the edge of a vast cliff above the sea. The drawing-room, a large and very elegant apartment, hangs over it; the waves run in wild eddies round the rocks beneath, and the sea fowl clamor above and below, forming a strange prospect and Angular chorus. The place was once defensible, there having been a ditch and draw-bridge on the accessible side, but now both are destroyed.

Above five miles South is Slains , the remains of the old family castle, seated strongly on a peninsulated rock; but demolished in 1594, by James VI. on the rebellion of the Earl of Huntly . Near this place are some vast caverns, once filled with curious stalactical incrustations, now destroyed, in order to be burnt into lime, for there is none in this country, that useful commodity being imported from the Earl of Elgin's works on the Frith of Forth .


Here the shore begins to grow bold and rocky, and indented in a strange manner with small and deep creeks, or rather immense and horrible chasms. The famous Bullers of Buchan lie about a mile North of Bowness , are a vast hollow in a rock, projecting into the sea, open at top, with a communication to the sea through a noble natural arch, through which boats can pass, and lie secure in this natural harbour. There is a path round the top, but in some parts too narrow to walk on with satisfaction, as the depth is about thirty fathom, with water on both sides, being bounded on the North and South by small creeks.


Near this is a great insulated rock, divided by a narrow and very deep chasm from the land. This rock is pierced through midway between the water and the top, and in violent storms the waves rush through it with great noise and impetuosity. On the sides, as well as those of the adjacent cliffs, breed multitudes of Kittiwakes .139 The young are a favourite dish in North Britain , being served up a little before dinner, as a whet for the appetite; but, from the rank smell and taste, seem as if they were more likely to have a contrary effect. I was told of an honest gentleman who was set down for the first time to this kind of whet, as he supposed; but after demolishing half a dozen, with much impatience declared, that he had eaten sax , and did not find himself a bit more hungry than before he began.


On this coast is a great fishery of Sea dogs,140 which begins the last week of July , and ends the first in September . The livers are boiled for oil; the bodies split, dried, and sold to the common people, who come from great distances for them. Very fine Turbots are taken on this coast; and towards Peterhead are good fisheries of Cod and Ling. The Lord of the Manor has 3 l. 6 s. 8 d. per annum from every boat, (a six man boat) but if a new crew sets up, the Lord, by way of encouragement, finds them a boat. Besides these, they have little yawls for catching bait at the foot of the rocks. Muscles are also much used for bait, and many boats loads are brought for that purpose from the mouth of the Ythen . Of late years, a very successful salmon fishery has been set up in the sandy bays below Slains . This is performed by long nets, carried out to sea by boats, a great compass taken, and then hawled on shore. It is remarked, these fish swim against the wind, and are much better tasted than those taken in fresh waters.

Most of the labor on shore is performed here by the women: they will carry as much fish as two men can lift on their shoulders, and when they have sold their cargo and emptied their basket, will replace part of it with stones: they go sixteen miles to fell or barter their fish ; are very fond of finery, and will load their fingers with trumpery rings, when they want both shoes and stockings.. The fleet was the last war supplied with great numbers of men from this and other parts of Scotland , as well as the army: I think near 70,000 engaged in the general cause, and assisted in carrying our glory through all parts of the globe: of the former, numbers returned; of the latter, very few.


The houses in this country are built with clay, tempered in the same manner as the Israelites made their bricks in the land of Ægypt : after dressing the clay, and working it up with water, the laborers place on it a large stratum of straw, which is trampled into it and made small by horses: then more is added, till it arrives at a proper consistency, when it is used as a plaister, and makes the houses very warm. The roofs are sarked, i. e . covered with inch-and-half deal, sawed into three planks, and then nailed to the joists, on which the slates are pinned.

The land prospect is extremely unpleasant; for no trees will grow here, in spite of all the pains that have been taken: not but in former times it must have been well wooded, as is evident from the number of trees dug up in all the bogs. The same nakedness prevales over great part of this coast, even far beyond Bamff , except in a few warm bottoms.

The corn of this tract is oats and barley; of the last I have seen very good close to the edges of the cliffs. Rents are paid here partly in cash, partly in kind; the last is commonly sold to a contractor. The land here being poor, is set cheap. The people live hardly: a common food with them is sowens , or the grosser part of the oatmeal with the husks, first put into a barrel with water, in order to grow sour, and then boiled into a fort of pudding, or flummery.


Crossed the country towards Bamff , over oatlands, a coarse sort of downs, and several black heathy moors, without a single tree for numbers of miles. See Craigston castle, a good house, once defensible, seated in a snug bottom, where the plantations thrive greatly. Saw here a head of David Lesly , an eleve of Gustavus Adolphus : a successful General against the royal cause: unfortunate when he attempted to support it; lost the battle of Dunbar , being forced to engage contrary to his judgment by the enthusiasm of the Preachers: marched with an unwilling army to the fatal battle of Worcester ; conscious of its disaffection or its fears, he sunk beneath his apprehensions; was dispirited and confounded: after the fight, lost his liberty and reputation; but was restored to both at the restoration by Charles II, who created him Baron of Newark . Another head, Sir Alexander Fraser , the Knight of Dores ; both by Jameson . Passed by a small ruined castle, in the parish of Kinedward , seated on a round hill in a deep glen, and scarce accessible; the antient name of this castle was Kin , or Kyn-Eden , and said to have been one of the seats of the Cummins , Earls of Buchan . Ford the Devron , a fine river, over which had been a beautiful bridge, now washed away by the floods. Enter Bamffshire , and reach its capital.


Bamff , pleasantly seated on the side of a hill; has several streets; but that with the town-house in it, adorned with a new spire, is very handsome. This place was erected into a borough by virtue of a charter from Robert II. dated Octob. 7. 1372, endowing it with the same privileges, and putting it on the same footing with the burgh of Aberdeen ; but tradition says it was founded in the reign of Malcolm Canmore . The harbour is very bad, as the entrance at the mouth of the Devron is very uncertain, being often stopped by the shifting of the sands, which are continually changing, in great storms; the pier is therefore placed on the outside. Much salmon is exported from hence. About Troop head, some kelp is made; and the adventurers pay the Lord of the Manor 50 l. per ann . for the liberty of collecting the materials.

Bamff had only one monastery, that of the Carmelites , dedicated to the Virgin Mary : whose rents, place and lands were bestowed on King's College in Aberdeen in 1617 by James VI.

The Earl of Finlater has a house, prettily seated on an eminence near the town, with some plantations 'of shrubs and small trees, which have a good effect in so bare a country. The prospect is very fine, commanding the rich meadows near the town, Down a small but well-built fishing town, the great promontory of Troophead , and to the North the hills of Rossshire, Sutherland , and Cathness .

The house once belonged to the Sharps ; and the violent Archbishop of that name was born here. In one of the apartments is a picture of Jameson by himself, sitting in his painting-room, dressed like Rubens , and with his hat on, and his pallet in his hand. On the walls are represented hung up, the pictures of Charles I. and his Queen; a head of his own wife; another head; two sea views, and Perseus and Andromeda , the productions of his various pencil.


Duff House, a vast pile of building, a little way from the town, is a square, with a square tower at each end; the front richly ornamented with carving, but, for want of wings, has a naked look: the rooms within are very small, and by no means answer the magnificence of the case.

In the apartments are these pictures: Frances , Dutchess of Richmond , full length, in black, with a little picture at her breast, Æt. 57, 1639, by Vandyck : was gran-daughter by the father to Thomas Duke of Norfolk ; to Edward Stafford Duke of Buckingham , by the mother. A Lady who attempted the very climax of matrimony: first married the son of a rich vintner; gave hopes after his death to a Knight, Sir G. Rodney , who on being jilted by her for an Earl, Edward Earl of Hertford , wrote to her in his own blood a well-composed copy of verses, and then fell on his sword: having buried the Earl, gave her hand to Ludovic Duke of Richmond and Lenox , and on his decease spread her nets for the old monarch James I. Her avarice kept pace with her vanity: when visited by the great, she had all the parade of officers, and gentlemen who attended: tables were spread, as if there had been ample provision; but the moment her visitors were gone, the cloths were taken off, and her train fed with a most scanty fare. Her pride induced her to draw up an inventory of most magnificent presents, she wished the world to believe she had given to the Queen of Bohemia ; presents of massy plate that existed only on paper.141 Besides this singular character, are two fine heads of Charles I. and his Queen. A head of a Duff of Corsenday , with short grey hair, by Cosmo Alexander , descendent of the famous Jameson . Near the house is a shrubbery, with a walk two miles long, leading to the river.

AUG. 12.

About two miles West of Bamff , not far from the sea, is a great stratum of sand and shells, used with success as a manure. Sea tang is also much used for corn lands, sometimes by itself, sometimes mixed with earth, and left to rot; it is besides often laid fresh on grass, and answers very well. Passed by the house of Boyne , a ruined castle on the edge of a deep glen, filled with some good ash and maples.


Near Portsoy , a small town in the parish of Fordyce , is a large stratum of marble, in which asbestos has been sometimes found: it it is a comfort of Verdi di Corsica , and used in some houses for chimney-pieces. Portsoy is the principal place in this parish, and contains about six hundred inhabitants, who carry on a considerable thread manufacture, and one of snuff: there also belong to the town twelve ships, from forty to a hundred tuns burden; and there are in the parish six fishing boats, each of whose crew consists of six men and a boy. Reach Cullen House, seated at the edge of a deep glen full of very large trees, which being out of the reach of the sea winds, prosper greatly. This spot is very prettily laid out in walks, and over the entrance is a magnificent arch sixty feet high, and eighty-two in width. The house is large, but irregular. The most remarkable pictures are, a full length of James VI. by Mytens : at the time of the revolution, the mob had taken it out of Holy-Rood House, and were kicking it about the streets, when the Chancellor, the Earl of Finlater , happening to pass by, redeemed it out of their hands. A portrait of James , Duke of Hamilton , beheaded in 1649, in a large black cloak, with a star, by Vandyck . A half-length of his brother, by the same, killed at the battle of Worcester . William, Duke of Hamilton , president of the revolution parlement, by Kneller . Old Lord Bamff , aged 90, with a long white square beard, who is said to have incurred the censure of the church, at that age, for his gallantries.142

Not far from Cullen House are the ruins of the castle of Finlater , situated on a high rock, projecting into the sea. It was strengthened in 1455 by Sir Walter Ogilvie , who had licence from James II. to build a tower and fortalice at his castle of Finlater . It continued in possession of the family till it was usurped by the family of the Gordons ; but was restored to the right heirs about the year 1562, by Queen Mary , who for that purpose caused it to be invested both by sea and land.

The country round Cullen has all the marks of improvement, owing to the143 indefatigable pains of the late noble owner, in advancing the art of agriculture and planting, and every other useful business, as far as the nature of the soil would admit. His success in the first was very great; the crops of beans, peas, oats, and barley, were excellent; the wheat very good, but, through the fault of the climate, will not ripen till it is late, the harvest in these parts being in October . The plantations are very extensive, and reach to the top of Binn hill; but the farther they extend from the bottoms, the worse they succeed.

The town of Cullen is mean; yet has about a hundred looms in it, there being a flourishing manufacture of linnen and thread, of which near fifty thousand pounds worth is annually made there and in the neighborhood. Upwards of two thousand bolls of wheat, barley, oats and meal are paid annually by the tenants to their landlords, and by them sold to the merchants and exported: and besides, the upper parts of the parish yield peas, and great quantities of oats, which are sold by those tenants who pay their rents in cash.

Near this town, the Duke of Cumberland , after his march from Bamff , joined the rest of his forces from Strath-Bogie , and encamped at Cullen .

In a small sandy bay are three lofty spiring rocks, formed of flinty masses, cemented together very differently from any stratum in the country. These are called the three Kings of Cullen- A little farther is another vast rock, pierced quite through, formed of pebbly concretions lodged in clay, which had subsided in thick but regular layers.


In this country are several Cairns or Barrows, the places of interment of the antient Caledonians , or of the Danes , for the method was common to both nations. At Craig Mills near Glassaugh was a very remarkable one demolished about fourteen years ago. The diameter was sixty feet, the height sixteen; formed entirely of stones brought from the shore, as appears by the limpets, muscles, and other shells mixed with them. The whole was covered with a layer of earth four feet thick, and that finished with a very nice coat of green sod, inclosing the whole. It seems to have been originally formed by making a deep trench round the spot, and flinging the earth inwards: then other materials brought to complete the work, which must have been that of an whole army. On breaking open this Cairn , on the summit of the stony heap beneath the integument of earth was found a stone coffin formed of long flags, and in it the complete skeleton of a human body, lain at full length with every bone in its proper place: and with them a deer's horn, the symbol of the favorite amusement of the deceased.

About five years ago another Cairn was broke open at Kil-hillock , or the hill of Burial, and in it was found another coffin about six feet long with a skeleton, an urn, and some charcoal: a considerable deal of charcoal was also met with intermixed every where among the stones of the Cairn . By this it appears that the mode of interment was various at the same period; for one of these bodies must have been placed entirely in its cemetery, the other burnt and the ashes collected in the urn.

A third Cairn on the farm of Brankanentim near Kil-hillock , was opened very lately; and in the middle was found a coffin only two feet square, made of flag-stones set on their edge, and another by way of cover. The urn was seated on the ground, filled with ashes, and was surrounded in the coffin with charcoal and bones, probably bones belonging to the same body, which had not been reduced to ashes like the contents of the urn.

Urn found near Bamff..

A fourth urn was discovered in a Cairn on the hill of Down , overlooking the river Devron , and town of Bamff . This was also placed in a coffin of flat stones, with the mouth downwards standing on another stone. The urn was ornamented; but round it were placed three others, smaller and quite plain. The contents of each were the same; ashes, burnt bones, flint arrow heads with almost vitrified surfaces, and a piece of flint of an oval shape flatted, two inches long, and an inch and a half thick. There was also in the larger urn, and one of the lesser, a small slender bone four inches long, and somewhat incurvated and perforated at the thicker end: it is apparently not human; but the animal it belonged to, and the use, are unknown.

The materials of the urns appear to have been found in the neighborhood; and consist of a coarse clay mixed with small stones and sand, and evidently have been only dried, and not burnt. By the appearance of the inside of the larger urn, it is probable that it was placed over the bones while they were hot and full of oil; the whole inside being blackened with the steam; and where it may have been supposed to have been in contact with them, the stain pervades the entire thickness. The urn was thirteen inches high.

The urn in the manner it was found; the small bones; and one of the arrow heads (of which no less than thirteen were found in the greatest urn) are engraven from a fine drawing communicated to me by the Rev. Mr. Laulie , Minister of Fordyce .

Besides is a numerous assemblage of Cairns on the Cotton hill, a mile South of Birkenbog , probably in memory of the slain in the victory obtained in 988, by Indulphus , over the Danes . The battle chiefly raged on a moor near Cullen , where there are similar barrows; but as it extended far by reason of the144 retreat of the vanquished, these seem to be flung together with the same design.

Not far from these are two circles of long stones, called Gael-cross : perhaps they might have been erected after that battle; and as Gaul is the Erse word for a stranger or enemy,145 as the Danes were, I am the more inclined to suppose that to have been the fact.

Nor is there wanting a retreat of the inhabitants in time of war; for round the top of the hill of Durn is a triple entrenchment still very distinct; the middle of stone, and very strong in the most accessible place: and such fastnesses were far from being unnecessary in a tract continually exposed to the ravages of the Danes .

The vault of the family of Abercrombies in this parish must not be passed over in silence: it is lodged in the wall of the church, and is only the repository of the sculls. The bodies are deposited in the earth beneath; and when the Laird dies, the scull of his predecessor is taken up and flung into this Golgotha , which at present is in possession of nineteen.


Some superstitions still lurk even in this cultivated country. The farmers carefully preserve their cattle against witchcraft by placing boughs of the mountain ash and honeysuckle in their cow houses on the 2d of May . They hope to preserve the milk of their cows, and their wives from miscarriage by tying red threads about them: they bleed the supposed witch to preserve themselves from her charms: they visit the well of Spey for many distempers, and the well of Drachaldy for as many, offering small pieces of money and bits of rags. The young people determine the figure and size of their husbands by drawing cabbages blindfold on All-Hallows even; and like the English fling nuts into the fire; and in February draw Valentines , and from them collect their future fortune in the nuptial state.

Every great family had in former times its DÆMON, or GENIUS, with its peculiar attributes. Thus the family of Rothemurchus had the Bodach an dun , or ghost of the hill. Kincardine's , the spectre of the bloody hand. Gartinbeg house was haunted by Bodach Gartin ; and Tulloch Gorms by Maug Moulach , or the girl with the hairy left hand. The synod gave frequent orders that enquiry should be made into the truth of this apparition: and one or two declared that they had seen one that answered the description.146

The little spectres called Tarans ,147 or the souls of unbaptized infants, were often seen flitting among the woods and secret places, bewailing in soft voices their hard fate. Could not superstition have likewise limited their sufferings; and like the wandering ghosts of the unburied, at length given them an Elysium ?

Centum errant annos, volitant haec littora circum:
Tum demum admissi stagna exoptata revisunt.


Passed through a fine open country, full of gentle risings, and rich in corn, with a few clumps of trees, sparingly scattered over it. Great use is made here of stone marle, a gritty indurated marle, found in vast strata, dipping pretty much: it is of different colors, blue, pale brown, and reddish; is cut out of the quarry, and laid very thick on the ground in lumps, but will not wholly dissolve under three or four years. In the quarry is a great deal of sparry matter, which is laid apart, and burnt for lime. Arrive at


Castle Gordon , a large old house, the seat of the Duke of Gordon , lying in a low wet country, near some large well-grown woods, and a considerable one of great hollies. It was founded by George second Earl of Huntly , who died in 1501, and was originally called the castle of the bog of Gight . It inherited, till of late, very little of its antient splendor: but the present Duke has made considerable additions in a very elegant style. By accident I met with an old print that shews it in all the magnificence described by a singular traveller of the middle of the last century.

Bogagieth , [says he ] the Marquis of Huntley's palace, all built of stone facing the ocean, whose fair front (set prejudice aside) worthily deserves an Englishman's applause for her lofty and majestick towers and turrets, that storm the air; and seemingly make dents in the very clouds. At first sight I must confess, it struck me with admiration to gaze on so gaudy and regular a frontispiece; more especially to consider it in the nook of a nation.148

The principal pictures in Castle Gordon are, the first Marquis of Huntly ; who on his first arrival at court forgetting the usual obeisance, was asked why he did not bow: he begged his Majesty's pardon, and excused his want of respect by saying he was just come from a place where every body bowed to him. Second Marquis of Huntly , beheaded by the Covenanters. His son, the gallant Lord Gordon, Montrose's friend, killed at the battle of Auldford . Lord Lewis Gordon , a less generous warrior; the plague149 of the people of Murray , (then the seat of the Covenanters) whose character, with that of the brave Montrose , is well contrasted in these old lines:

If ye with Montrose gae, ye'l get sic and wae enough;
If ye with Lord Lewis gae, ye'l get rob and rave enough.

The head of the second Countess of Huntly , daughter of James I. Sir Peter Fraser , a full length in armour. A fine small portrait of the Abbé de Aubigné , sitting in his study. A very fine head of St. John receiving the revelation; a beautiful expression of attention and devotion.


The Duke of Gordon still keeps up the diversion of falconry, and had several fine Hawks, of the Peregrine and gentle Falcon species, which breed in the rocks of Glenmore . I saw also here a true Highland gre-hound, which is now become very scarce: it was of a very large size, strong, deep chested, and covered with very long and rough hair. This kind was in great vogue in former days and used in vast numbers at the magnificent stag-chases, by the powerful Chieftains.

I also saw here a dog the offspring of a Wolf and Pomeranian bitch. It had much the appearance of the first, was very good-natured and sportive; but being flipped at a weak Deer it instantly brought the animal down and tore out its throat. This dog was bred by Mr. Brook , animal-merchant in London , who told me that the congress between the wolf and the bitch was immediate, and the produce at the litter was ten.


The Spey is a dangerous neighbor to Castle Gordon ; a large and furious river, overflowing very frequently in a dreadful manner, as appears by its ravages far beyond its banks. The bed of the river is wide and full of gravel, and the channel very shifting.

The Duke of Cumberland passed this water at Belly church, near this place, when the channel was so deep as to take an officer, from whom I had the relation, and who was six feet four inches high, up to the breast. The banks are very high and steep; so that, had not the Rebels been providentially so infatuated as to neglect opposition, the passage must have been attended with considerable loss.

The salmon fishery on this river is very great: about seventeen hundred barrels full are caught in the season, and the shore is rented for about 1200 l. per annum .

133 In Charles the First's time.

134 Spotswood's Hist. Church of Scotland . 6.

135 Boethius's Hist. of the Bishops of Aberdeen .

136 Cruives, &c. shall have their heeke two inches wide, that the fry may pass. Rob . I.

137 Alex. I.

138 Keith's Scotch Bishops . 65. This Prelate was living in 1333.

139 Br. Zool. No. 250.

140 The picked Shark. Br. Zool . III. No. 40.

141 Vide Wilson's Life of James I. 258, 259.

142 Among other pictures of persons of merit, that of the admirable Crichton must not be overlooked. I was informed, that there is one of that extraordinary person in the possession of Alexander Morrison , Esq; of Bagnie , in the county of Bamff ; it is in the same apartment with some of Jameson's , but seems done by a superior hand: came into Mr. Morrison's possession from the family of Crichton , Viscount Frendraught , to whom Crichton probably, sent it from Italy , where he spent the last years of his short, but glorious life. Vide Appendix.

143 His Lordship collected together near 2000 souls, to his new town at Keith , by feuing , i. e. giving in perpetuity, on payment of a slight acknowledgement, land sufficient to build a house on, with gardens and back-yard.

144 Buchanan , lib. vi. c. 19.

145 Doctor Macpherson , p. 240.

146 Shaw's History of Moray, 306.

147 Idem, 307.

148 Northern Memoirs, &c. by RICHARD FRANKS, Philanthropus. London 1694. 12 mo. This Gentleman made his journey in 1658, and went through Scotland as far as the water of Brora in Sutherland to enjoy as he traveled, the amusement of angling.

149 Whence this proverb,

The Guil, the Gordon , and the Hooded Craw,
Were the three worst things Murray ever saw.

Guil is a weed that infests corn. It was from the castle of Rothes , on the Spey , that Lord Lewis made his plundering excursions into Murray .

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

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