Britannia, by William Camden

Concerning the
Thule of the Ancients.

By Sir Robert Sibbald.

THERE is no place oftner mention’d by the Ancients, than Thule, and yet it is much controverted what place it was: some have attempted the discovery of it, but have gone wide of the marks which the Ancients left concerning it; yet they seem all to agree that it was some place towards the north, and very many make it to be one of the British Isles; and since Conradus Celtes says, it is encompassed with the Orkney Isles, it will not be amiss to subjoyn to the foregoing description of Orkney, this Essay concerning it.

Phoenician Some derive the name Thule,Thule, in the North. from the Arabick word Tule, which signifies Far off; and, as it were with allusion to this, the Poets usually call it ultima Thule; but I rather prefer the reason of the name given by the learned Bochartus, who makes it to be Phœnician, and affirms, that it signifies, darkness in that language, ThuleChanan. l.1. c.40. in the Tyrian language, was a Shadow; whence it is commonly used to signifie Darkness, and the Island Thule, is as much as an Island of Darkness; which name, how exactly it agrees to the Island so called at the utmost point to the north, is known to every body. Hence Tibullus,Ad Messal. speaking of the Frigid Zone, hath this,

Illic & densâ tellus absconditur umbrâ.

And there the Earth is hid in a dark shade.

Odyss.1. v.25.
L.3. v.1190.
And these places of Homer Greek, ad caliginem, Darkness, and Greek, Neque enim scimus ubi sit caligo, Darkness, are by ¦ ¦ L.1. p.34.
L.10. p.454, 455.
Strabo interpreted, Nescimus ubi sit septentrio, of the North, We know not where the North is. And consonant to this, * * L.3. ad Claud. Ux.Statius,

Vel super Hesperiæ vada caligantia Thules:

Or the dark Fords of the Hesperian Thule.

† Lib.4. ad Marcell.And,

aut Nigræ Littora Thules.

—Or shores of the black Thule.

And indeed, this derivation of the word carries more reason than any other they give; and is an evident proof, that the Ancients agreed in placing their Thule towards the North. We shall see next what Northern Country they pitched on for it.

Thule, one of the British Isles. The Ancients seem most to agree, that Thule was one of those Isles that are called British. Strabo one of the most ancient, and best Geographers extant, speaks thus, Pytheas Massiliensis says, it is about Thule, the furthest north of all the British Isles. Pythaeas Yet he himself maketh it nearer than Pythæas did; But I think (says he) that northern bound to be much nearer to the South: for they who survey that part of the Globe, can give no account beyond Ireland, an Isle which lies not far towards the North, before Britain; inhabited by wild People, almost starved with cold: there, therefore, l am of opinion, the utmost bound is to be plac’d. So that in his opinion, that which he calls Ireland, must be Thule.

Ad Furium. Catullus seems to be of the same mind, in these Verses,

Sive trans altas
Gradietur Alpes,
Cæsaris visens
Monumenta Magni,
Gallicum Rhenum,
Horribilesque &
Ultimos Britannos

Whether he o’er the Alps his way pursue,
The mighty Cæsar’s Monuments to view,
As Gallique Rhine and Britons that excel
In fierceness, who on the Earth’s limits dwell.

Carm. lib.1. Ode 35. And Horace,

Serves iturum Cæsarem
In ultimas orbis Britannos

Preserve thou Cæsar safe, we thee implore,
Bound to the World’s remotest Briton’s shore.

Lib.1. And Silius Italicus, in these Verses,

Cærulus haud aliter cum dimicat Incola Thules,
Agmina falcifero circumvenit acta covino

As Thule’s blue inhabitants surround
Their Foes with Chariots hook’d, and them confound.

For it appears from Cæsar’s Commentaries, that the bluish colour, and the fighting out of the hooked Chariots, were in use among the Inhabitants of Britain. Pliny likewise seems to be of this Opinion; for he treats of Thule in the same Chapter where he treats of the British Isles: and Tacitus says,In Vit. Agric when the Romon Navy sail’d about Britain, despecta est & Thule, They saw Thule also.

Ireland. Ireland, properly so called, was the first of the British Isles which got the name Thule, as being the first that the Carthaginians met with, as they steer’d their course from Cadiz to the West:Ad Claud.
And hence it is that Statius calls Thule, Hesperia.

Et si gelidas irem mansurus ad Arctos,
Vel super Hesperiæ vada caligantia Thules

If I in the cold North go to abide,
Or on dark Seas which Western Thule hide.

And it seems to be the same, that is said by AristotleDe mirab. Auscult. to have been discovered by the Carthaginians, where he speaks thus, Beyond Hercules’s Pillars, they say the Carthaginians found a fertil Island uninhabited, abounding with wood, and navigable Rivers, and stored with very great plenty of * * Fructibus.Fruits of all sorts; distant several days voyage from the Continent. And Bochartus confirms this by what he observes, that an ancient Author, Antonius Diogenes, who wrote twenty four Books of the strange things related of Thule not long after the time of Alexander the Great, had his History from the Ciparis Tables, dug at Tyrus out of the Tombs of Mantinia and Dercilis, who had gone from Tyrus to Thule, and had staid some time there.

But though this be the first Thule discover’d by the Carthaginians, yet it is not that mention’d by the Roman writers;The Romans were in Thule. for they speak of the Thule which the Romans were in, and made conquest of: but it is certain they never were in Ireland, properly so call’d. That they were in Thule,Lib.5. Protrept. ad Crisp. appears from these Verses of Statius;

Tu disce patrem, quantusque nigrantem
Fluctibus occiduis, fessoque Hyperione Thulen
Intrârit, mandata gerens

Learn from thy fight, how glorious he was,
When he did with the Senate’s order pass
O’re to dark Thule, in that Ocean, west,
Where Phœbus gives his weary horses rest.

Now the Father of Crispinus, to whom he writes, was Bolanus; the same Vectius Bolanus, who was Governour of Britain under Vitellius, (as Tacitus informs us;)Vit. Agric. which is yet more clearly proved by the following Verses of the same Poet.

Quod si te Magno, tellus frænata parente
Accipiat —
Caledonios attollet gloria campos,
Cum tibi Longœvus referet
trucis incola terræ,
Hic suetus dare jura parens, hoc cespite turmas
Affari nitidas speculas, castellaque longe
Aspicis: ille dedit, cinxitque hæc mœnia fessa
Belligeris, hæc dona Deis, hæc tela dicavit,
Cernis adhuc titulos: Hunc ipse vacantibus armis
Induit, hum Regi rapuit thoraca Britanno

If thou received be by that far land,
Subdued by thy conquering Father’s hand;
What glory will it be, when thou hear’st tell,
By old fierce Scots, in Caledon that dwell,
How in this place, thy Sire us’d to give law,
How there the Troops they him haranguing saw,

And point out Towers and Castles through the Land,
Which all erected were by his command.
These walls he with a ditch did round enclose,
And to the Gods he consecrated those;
These weapons, he did also dedicate,
As the Inscriptions, to be seen, relate:
This Corslet, he, in time of peace put on;
And this, he from the British King had won.

TerraeThule, in the North part of Britain. The words Caledonios, and Trucis incola Terræ, do clearly shew, that by Thule, is meant the North part of Britain; which was then possess’d by the Pights, design’d by the name Caledonios; and by the Scots design’d by Trucis Incola Terræ. The same epithet, that Claudian gives to the Scots, in these Verses;

Venit & extremis legio prætenta Britannis,
Quæ Scoto dat fræna truci.

That Legion also, sent fierce Scots to tame.

And of this North part of Britain, that Verse of Juvenal is likewise to be understood,

De conducendo loquitur jam Rhetore Thule.

The best exposition of which, is taken from Tacitus, Vit. Agric.Jam vero principum filios, liberalibus artibus erudire, & ingenia Britannorum studiis Gallorum anteferre, ut qui modo linguam Romanam abnuebant, eloquentiam concupiscerent”, &c. Thus render’d by Sir Henry Savil: Moreover, the Noblemen’s sons he took and instructed in the liberal Sciences, preferring the wits of the Britons before the Students of France, as being now curious to attain the Eloquence of the Roman Language, whereas they lately rejected the Speech. After that; Our Attire grew to be in account, and the Gown much used among them.

De 3 Consul. Honor. Claudian does yet more particularly give the name of Thule to the North part of Britain, while he speaks of the great exploits done there by Theodosius, the father of Theodosius the Emperor, and Grand-father of Arcadius and Honorius.

Facta tui numeravit avi quem littus adustæ
Horrescit Lybiæ, ratibusque impervia
Ille leves Mauros, nec falso nomine Pictos
, Scotumque vago mucrone secutus,
Fregit Hyperboreas remis audacibus undas,
Et geminis fulgens utroque sub axe trophæis,
Tithyos alternæ refluas calcavit arenas

He did the deeds of thy Grand-father tell,
Before whose face the Tawny-Moor grew pale,
And Thule, where no Ships could ever sail,
He tamed the nimble Moors, and painted Pights,
With brandish’d Swords the Scots close he pursu’d,
And with bold Oars their Northern Seas he broke:
His Trophies thus under both Poles he plac’d,
Where e’re the Ocean either ebb’d or flow’d.

And in these Lines.

Ille Caledoniis posuit qui castra pruinis,
Qui medio Lybiæ sub Casside pertulit æstus,
Terribilis Mauro, debellatorque Britanni
Littoris, ac pariter Boreæ vastator & Austri,
Quid rigor æternus Cœli? quid sidera prosunt?
Ignotumque fretum? Maduerunt Saxone fuso
Orcades; incaluit Pictorum sanguine Thule,
Scotorum cumulos flevit glacialis Ierne

In Caledonian frosts his tent he pitch’d,
And Libia’s scorching heat endur’d in field,
The coal-black Moors, and British shore he tam’d,
Thus forcing both the South and North to yield;
What then avail’d, cold clime, strange Seas, and Stars?
When Orkney Isles he dy’d with Saxon gore,
Then Thule with the Pictish blood grew hot,
Icy Strathern bemoan’d huge heaps of Scots.

Where, by placing the Moors and Britains as the remotest People then known, and mentioning the Scots and Pights as the Inhabitants of Thule and Ierne; he demonstrates clearly, that Thule is the North part of the Isle of Britain, inhabited by the Scots and Pights. Hyperborae undaeIerne, not Ireland, properly so called. For this Ierne, or as some read it Hyberne, can no way be understood of Ireland, properly so call’d: First, because Ireland can never deserve the Epithet Glacialis; since by the testimony of the Irish writers, the Snow and Ice continue not any time there: Secondly, the Romans were never in Ireland; whereas, according to the foremention’d Verses, Theodosius past our Firths of Forth and Clide, call’d by him Hyperboræ undæ, and entered Strathern, which to this day bears the name Ierne, in which Roman Medals are found, and the Roman Camps and Military ways are to be seen, the undoubted testimonies of their being there; and therefore is so to be understood, in the same Poet’s lines upon Stilico, who was employ’d in the British wars:

Me quoque vicinis pereuntem gentibus, inquit,
Munivit Stilico, totam cum Scotus Iernem
Movit, & infesto spumavit remige Thetis;
Illius effectum curis, ne bella timerem
Scotica, nec Pictum tremerem

Me to ill Neighbours long a prey expos’d,
With safety now hath Stilico enclos’d,
While that the Scots did all Ierne raise,
And Forth and Clide with hostile rowers foam’d,
By his great care it came to pass, that I
Fear’d neither Scot nor Pight.—

Undae Hyperboreae Praetenturae Now Thetis in these Verses, and the Undæ Hyperboreæ in the Verses before mention’d, cannot be understood of the Sea between Scotland and Ireland: for Ireland lies to the South of the Roman Province; and the situation of the Scots and Pights Country is to the North of it. For it was separated by the two Firths of Forth and Clide, from the Roman Province; which clearly shows, it was to be understood of them: the same thing that is also imported by the words Hyperboreas Undas, and Remis; for these cannot be understood of the Irish Sea, which is to the south of the Roman Province, and is very tempestuous, and cannot so well be past by Oars as the Firths of Forth and Clide. But the same Poet has put this beyond all doubt, in these Verses,

Venit & extremis legio prætenta Britannis,
Quæ Scoto dat fræna truci, ferroque notatas
Perlegit exanimes Picto moriente figuras

Hither the Legion came, in garrison oppos’d
To utmost Britons, bridling the fierce Scot,
And saw the Pights, whose bodies are mark’d o’re
With various figures, dying in their gore.

For were it to be understood of the Irish Sea, then the Wall and the Prætenturæ should have been plac’d upon the Scotish shore, that was over-against Ireland; whereas they were placed over-against that Country which is call’d Strathern now, and is the true Ierne; not only mention’d by Claudian, but likewise by Juvenal, in these Verses,

Arma quid ultra
Littora Juvernæ promovimus, & modo captas
Orcades, & minima contentos nocte Britannos

What though the Orcades have own’d our Power,
What though Juverna’s tam’d, and Britain’s shore,
That boasts the shortest night? —

Where he directs us to the situation of the Country of the Scots and Pights. Juverna was the Country of the Scots, which had been overrun in part by Julius Agricola, Governour of Britain under Domitian the Emperor, who first enter’d the Orcades; and, as Tacitus observes, (Despecta Thule,) he saw the North part of the Country beyond Ierne, which is the Country of the Pights, and lies to the North of the Firth of Forth, and upon the German Sea, and is design’d in these words, minima contentos nocte Britannos, which particularly relate to Ross and Caithness. caesar And the Inhabitants of Juverna and Thule, are the very same that the Panegyrist Eumenius speaks of, in his Oration to Constantine the Great; where he saith, that the Nation of Britain, in the time of Cæsar, was rudis & soli Britannia, Pictis modo & Hibernis assueta hostibus seminudis. Had not been us’d to war, but only with the People of the British Soil, the Pights and the Irish: who (for their loose and short garments) may be called half-naked.

Why the West-part of Scotland, call’d Hibernia. These were called Hiberni, as being at first a Colony from Ireland; and as possessing that tract of the Isle of Britain, which is called by the ancient writers Ierne glacialis, and Ierne simply, and by the writers of the middle age Hibernia; as you may see in the Roman Martyrology, at S. Becanus, Bishop of Aberdeen in Ireland. Now never any Irish writer could yet say, that in Ireland, properly so call’d, there was a town called Aberdeen, or a river called Don.

And that this part of Britain, then possess’d by the Scots, was called Hibernia, is clear from the testimony of Venerable Bede,Eccl. Hist. L.4. c.26. who calls it Hibernia, in the beginning of the Chapter; and in the next page, calls the same Country Scotia.

It is certain, that as the wall betwixt Tine and Solway Firth, call’d Murus Picticus, was built to exclude the Pights; so was that betwixt Edinburgh and Dumbarton Firth, to exclude the Scots Highlanders; and was design’d first by Agricola, as appears by Tacitus, where he saith, Agric.Nam Glotta & Bodotria diversi maris æstu per immensum revecti, angusto terrarum spatio dirimuntur, quod tum præsidiis firmabatur, summotis velut in aliam insulam hostibus.” That is, For Clide and Forth, two arms of two contrary Seas, shooting mightily into the land, were only divided by a narrow partition of ground; which passage was then guarded and fortified with garrisons and castles, so that the Romans were absolute Lords of all on this side, having cast out the enemy, as it were, into another Island. And indeed, as Tacitus remarks, Inventus in ipsa Britannia terminus, i.e. a boundary was found in Britain it self; for the Romans made this the utmost limit of their Province, and gave the name Britain to that part of the Island within the Roman wall; which wall was built on this narrow neck of ground, between the two Firths, where the Legion, * * Pag.1290.mention’d above, lay.

Transmarinae And hence it is, that Venerable Bede calls these People who dwelt beyond the wall, Transmarinæ Gentes, but explains himself thus,Lib.1. c.12. Now, we call them Transmarine Nations, not because they are out of Britain; but because they are in some sense divided from it; two Arms of the Sea, one from the East, and the other from the West, breaking in a long way into the Land, on each side. And a little before this, he tells us, who these Transmarinæ Gentes were, viz. Scotorum à Circio, that is, the Scots from the North-west, and Pictorum ab Aquilone, the Pights from the North; which relates to that part of the Isle without the Roman Province: for Ireland, properly so called, cannot be said to lie to the North-west of the Roman Province.

Now we will endeavour to shew, that what Juvenal saith in these Verses before mentioned,

Arma quid ultra
Littora Juvernæ promovimus
, &c.

is to be meant of that part which is now call’d Strathern, and the rest of Pearthshire, and the West Highlands; the Country of the Scots, design’d by Bede, à Circio, which are truly so situate in respect of the Roman Province. And this we will make out from what we meet with in Tacitus. For first, he saith,Vit. Agric. The third year’s expedition discover’d People they were not before acquainted with, having over-run all them that were on this side Tay; which he describes to be a Firth. It appears by this, that they were other People than those he had to do with before, because they are call’d Novæ Gentes. Novae Transmarinae In the next place, he says, The fourth Summer was spent in taking possession of what they had over-run: And he observes in that Expedition, that the small Isthmus, or neck of land, that kept Clyde and Forth from meeting, was secured by garrisons; summotis velut in aliam insulam hostibus, by this means the enemy were removed, as it were, into another Isle.

Now, whoever will compare what we observed out of Bede, of the Gentes Transmarinæ beyond these two Firths; will see clearly, that these Novæ Gentes were the Scots and the Pights; the Scots, in the Country towards the North-west, and the Pights, in the Country North-east. But this is yet more confirm’d by the account that is given by Tacitus, of the action in the sixth Summer of Agricola’s Government, (Ampla civitate trans Bodotriam sita, Being inform’d of a great People that dwelt beyond Forth:) now, Civitate being in the singular, makes it understood of the People that lie nearest; that is, the Scots. And, Quia motus universarum ultra gentium & infesta hostili exercitu itinera timebantur, Because he apprehended that all the People beyond Forth would rise against him, and feared that in his passage he might be attack’d by the Enemy’s Army, he try’d their Harbours with his Fleet. Where, by the by, there is a pretty Description of the nature and quality of the Country, in these words, “Ac modo sylvarum & montium profunda, modo tempestatum ac fluctuum adversa, hinc terra & hostus, hinc auctus Oceanus militari jactantia compararentur;” i.e. One while the depths of Woods and Mountains; another while the terrible force of tempests and waves; on one hand, the land and the enemy, on the other hand the Ocean swell’d by the Tides; were compared, and the difficulties boasted of by the Soldiery: Which very well agrees to the woody and mountainous Country, mixed with Valleys, that lyeth North of these Firths; and to the roughness of the Firths, when agitated with Winds: and a little below this, he saith, that the People inhabiting Caledonia, betook them to their Arms; where he gives an account of a sore battle they had with the Romans, when Agricola was so hard put to it, as to make use of all his force, and art.

Caledonia. What is meant by Caledonia, he has told us, where he speaks of the figure of Britain; that what the Ancients said of it, agreed to that part on this side of Caledonia; sed immensum & enorme spatium procurrentium extremo jam littore terrarum, velut in cuneum tenuatur, i.e. a vast and almost boundless space of Land running into the Sea, towards the end, lessens into the form of a Wedge; by which he makes Caledonia to contain all the rest of Britain, to the North of these two Firths: and, that they were different People, who were possess’d of it, is clear by the words, Caledoniam incolentes populi. By the Caledonii, simply, the Romans understood the Pights who inhabited the Country that lay upon the German Sea; but as he mentions several People here, so he gives you afterwards the Horesti, that is, the Highlanders; the name given of old to the ancient Scots, and kept by their Descendents to this day. And after he has given an account of'the great preparations, he relates the great battle that he fought with these people, the last Summer of his government: He tells us, that he marched up to the Grampion Hills, where the Enemy were encamp’d. Here, any who will but consider the ground they were encamp’d on, and the way of their fighting, and the description he makes Galgacus their Commander in chief to give of them, may clearly see that they were different people, and no other than those whom Claudian and other authors call Scots and Pights.

But, because it is controverted by some late writers, wherher they were Natives of Britain, or Irish, who from Ireland, properly so called, invaded Britain; we shall bring some arguments that Tacitus furnishes us withal, to prove that they were Natives of the British Soil. For in the account even of this last expedition, he says, “Nam Britanni nihil fracti pugnæ prioris eventu, & ultionem aut servitium expectantes, tandemque docti commune periculum concordia propulsandum, legationibus & fœderibus omnium civitatium vires exciverant; jamque supra triginta millia armatorum aspiciebantur, & adhuc affluebat omnis juventus, & quibus cruda & viridis senectus,” &c. i.e. For the Britains, not at all discouraged by their former misfortune, and thinking of nothing but either Revenge or Servitude, and having learnt withal the necessity of a Confederacy among themselves, to fence against a danger common to all; had by Embassies and Leagues engaged the strength of all their Cities, and got together above thirty thousand men in arms, besides others, not only of their Youth, but also of the more lusty and vigorous among the old Men, who were continually flocking in, &c. Where it is observable, that although he called them before Novæ Gentes, yet here he calls them Britanni; which was the name the Romans gave to all that inhabited this Island, but it was never given by any of the Roman Authors to the Inhabitants of Ireland. The words, Legationibus & fœderibus omnium civitatum vires exciverant, show, that both Scots and Pights were united, and composed their Army. For the Britains spoken of here, are the Inhabitants of Caledonia; and so it is, that Tacitus says, Galgacus design’d them in these words, Ostendamus quos sibi Caledonia viros seposuerit, i.e. Let us show what glorious Men Caledonia has in reserve.

We find likewise in our Author, several marks of distinction. First, they are Gentes: now, the Criticks have observ’d that Gens is a more general name, and so all the Britains are called Gens Britannorum; Natio is a particular People, a part comprehended under the general name Gens: So, the Caledonii, the Silures, and the rest mention’d by Ptolemy in his Map of Britain, are nationes Britannicæ, British Nations. Our Author also speaks of Civitates; which are not Towns, but Gentes, People, and the Clans that composed them, which lived under the command of their Chiefs: So Galgacus is described here, inter plures duces virtute & genere præstans, i.e. Of their many Leaders, the most considerable for Valour and Birth. And these same names which we find in Ptolemy, are certainly the ancient names of the Clans; but Ptolemy has been deficient, in that he has not set down the general names that the People call’d themselves by, which in this part of the Island, was Albanich and Peaghts, that is, Albanenses and Picti. Caesar Novae These two names prove them to be the ancient and first Inhabitants of Britain, whom Cæsar designs in these words, Interior pars ab iis incolitur, qui se natos in insula dicunt; i.e. the inner part is inhabited by those who call themselves Aborigines; which Galgacus owns here, speaking to his Army: he calls them nobilissimi totius Britanniæ, eoque in ipsis penetralibus siti, i.e. the most noble of all the Britains, and so placed in the west inward parts. The reason of the names Albanich and Peaghts is given in the Scotia Antiqua; it is enough here to remember, that that part of the Island which lay to the North of Humber, was, by the confession of the most learned of the British Historians (as Priscus defen. Hist. Britan. Pag.6o. Ranulph. Higden. Polychronic. Lib.1. Luddus fragment.) called Albania, and a part of the Country still carries the name of Broad-Albine.

Likewise, that those whom he calls Caledoniam incolentes populi, are the same that were called Novæ gentes, appears from this which follows; that when (because of the Summer’s being far spent) the War could not be suppressed, he led his Army into the bounds of the Horesti; and, a little after, himself carrying the foot and horse by slow marches (for a greater terror to the New Nations) into winter-quarters; where they are call’d by the same name Novæ Gentes. For Tacitus here relates, that because the Summer was spent, and the War could not be extended against the Pights and Scots both, he marched with his Army to the borders of the Scots whom he calls Horesti, that is, Greek Montani, Highlanders. And indeed I have seen Roman Medals which were found in Argileshire, and many have been found in several parts of Perthshire. Besides, a great many Roman Camps are there: and you may see by Tacitus, that in the sixth year of Agricola’s Government, some of these Camps had been attack’d by those People who dwelt in Caledonia; for he saith, that having attack’d their * * Castella.Castles or Camps, they had made themselves more formidable, as Aggressors; and a little after, it is said of the same People, concerning the Attack of the ninth Legion, that they fought in the veryCastris.Camps. Camp at Airdoch.
This Camp seems to be the same which is yet to be seen near Airdoch, the figure of which is here given.

See pag.1240. Camp plan

And the reason why I take this to have been one of Agricola’s Camps, is, for that Tacitus hath observed before, That no General was more dextrous in the choice of Places than Agricola; nor was any Camp that he had form’d, ever taken or deserted. L.1. c.22. For if we consider this Camp, we shall find it has all the Advantages that Vegetius saith a Camp should have. Camps ought to be made in a safe place, where is plenty of wood, forrage, and water; and if the continuance there is to be long, the Air is also to be regarded. But great care is to be taken, that there be not in the neighbourhood a higher hill, where the Enemy may post themselves, and from thence annoy the Camp; and that the Field be not subject to Inundations by reason of any Torrents. This is, indeed, upon a Heath in a sloping ground: it hath the Water of Kneck running close by it, whose banks are so high, that it could not overflow; and there is wood near it, and more has been about it; there is no Mountain nor considerable Height so near, as that they could from thence annoy it. The same Vegetius adds, These Camps, like Towns, are often built, both on the borders of the Empire, and where are perpetual Stations * * Prætentura.and Guards against the Enemy. Praetentura Praetorium And the largeness of this Camp, and its situation upon the frontier, makes this to be a Prætentura.

The Prætorium, or the General’s Quarter, is a large Square, about a hundred paces every way: round it, are five or six Aggeres or Dykes, and as many Valla or Ditches, the deepness of a man’s height. There are Ports to the four Quarters of the World; and to the East, are several larger Squares, with their Circumvallations continued for a good way. To the West, is the Bank of the water of Kneck, and five or six miles to the North-east of this, hard by the Water of Earn near Inch Paferay, is a lesser Camp, the castrum exploratorum, or Camp for the Advance-Guard: and a little to the Eastward of this, beginneth the Roman Via militaris, call’d by the common People, the Street-way. Street-way. This, in some places, is raised from the ground almost a Man’s height, and is so broad, that one Coach may pass by another with ease upon it. It runs towards the River Tay, the whole length of which Agriciola’s devastations reached, as Tacitus tells us, The devastations were carried as far as the River Taus. And the Grampian hills (towards which he marched when he fought the last Battle in the last year of his Government) are but a few miles distant from these Camps.

The Inscription, of which we have given the Figure above, was taken up out of the Prætorium of the Prætentura: below which, are Caves; and out of them some pieces of a shield were also taken up, and several Medals have been found thereabouts. Praetorium Praetentura primae I saw a Medal of Silver of Antoninus Pius, found there. The People, who live in the neighbourhood, report, that a large Roman Medal of Gold was also found; as great quantities of Silver ones have been found near the water of Earn, amongst which I have seen some of Domitian, some of Trajan, and some of Marcus Aurelius the Philosopher. Besides, whereas it is said that the man, for whom this Sepulchral Inscription was made, was Cohortis primæ Hispanorum; i.e. of the first Cohort of the Spaniards; if you will look into the Notitia Imperii Romani, you will find that amongst the Troops placed secundum lineam valli, i.e. along the Wall, this Cohors prima Hispanorum was one. And it should seem that the Poet Claudian had this very same Prætentura in his eye, in these Verses,

Venit & extremis legio prætenta Britannis,
Scoto dat fræna truci, &c.

Hither the Legion came, in garrison oppos’d
To utmost Britons, bridling the fierce Scot.

And so, without all question, the Glacialis Ierne is meant of this very Country, which carries now the name Strathern; where all these footsteps of the Roman Exploits are found. And these who are called Scots by Claudian, are the very same People that Eumenius calls Hiberni soli Britanni, the Irish of the British Soil, and Tacitus, Horesti, Highlandmen or Braemen; which name some of their Descendants yet bear. While, on the contrary, all Authors both ancient and modern, agree, that the Romans were never in Ireland properly so call’d; and there are no Roman Camps, Military Ways, nor Coins, to be seen there.

It remains now, that we show where the Country of the PightsPights. was, who, in the Verse last cited, are joined with the Scots, and were not very far from this same Prætentura, since the Poet immediately subjoyns to,

Quæ Scoto dat fræna truci, —these words,
——Ferroque notatas,
Perlegit exanimes Picto moriente figuras.

And saw the Pights, whose Bodies are mark’d o’re
With various figures, dying in their gore.

That this Thule was a part of Britain, the Roman Writers seem to be very clear, especially Silius Italicus, in these Verses, Lib.17.

Cœrulus haud aliter cum dimicat incola Thules,
Agmina falcifero circumvenit acta covino.

As Thule’s blue Inhabitants surround
Their Foes with Chariots hook’d, and them confound.

For Silius here seems to have in his eye, what Cæsarcaesar in his Commentaries hath deliver’d, of the Britons fighting in Essedis:L.3. c.6. and Pomponius Mela, where he speaks of the Britons, says, That they fight, not only with Horse and Foot, but with * * Bigis.Carts and Chariots, the axle-trees of which he observes, were armed with hooks. And Tacitus tells us, that in the battle fought with our Countrymen at the Grampion-hill, media covinarius & eques strepitu ac discursu complebat, The middle of the Field was filled with the clattering and running of Chariots and Horsemen. And a little below that, Covinarii peditum se prælio miscuere, & quanquam recentem terrorem intulerant, densis tamen hostium agminibus & inæqualibus locis hærebant. In the mean time the Chariots mix’d themselves with the Foot, which, although they had lately caused great terror, were now entangled in the thick ranks of the Enemies, and in uneven ground. These Covinarii are call’d by Cæsar Essedarii; and so, I think no body will doubt, but that Silius the Poet, by Cœrulus Incola Thules, meant the Britains. We also find an appellation of the same nature given to one of the Tribes of the Scots, by Seneca, in these Verses, In Ludo.

Ille Britannos,
Ultra noti
Littora ponti
Et Cœruleos

Scoto Brigantes
Dare Romuleis
Colla catenis

He to submission Britains did compel,
Beyond the utmost Ocean’s bounds who dwell:
The Irish Scots who painted are with blew,
He forc’d unto the Roman yoke to bow.

Exercit. Plin. p.189. For so it is read by Joseph Scaliger, and by Salmasius, who came next in learning to him. And it should seem by those Verses,

Et cœruleos
Scoto Brigantas,
Dare Romuleis
Colla catenis

that Seneca, who was contempory with Claudius, had in his eye the Victory which Ostorius Governour of Britain, under Claudius the Emperor, obtain’d over Caratacus. His History may be seen elegantly written by Tacitus in the twelfth Book of his Annals; where he shows us, that Caratacus being brought before Claudius in Chains, made a brave Speech to him; and, amongst other things, spoke of the several Nations which he had govern’d. And without doubt, besides the Silures mention’d there by Tacitus, these Scoto-brigantes were of the number of the Gentes which he commanded.

In which part of Britain Thule was. But to make it appear which part of Britain the Thule was, which is mention’d by the Romans; it will be fit to see, to which part of Britain the Epithets attributed by writers to Thule, do best agree. First then, it was a remote part, Ultima Thule, as if this were the remotest part of Britain; so Tacitus brings in Galgacus expressing it, We, the utmost Bounds of Land and Liberty, &c. Then, Thule was towards the North; and so was this Country, with respect to the Roman Province. And, thirdly, it might deserve the name Thule, because of its obscure and dark aspect; it being in those days all over-grown with Woods. Fourthly, the length of the day annex’d to Thule; and upon this account it must be the Country to the North, and to the East of Ierne, by the Verses of Juvenal, before-mention’d,

——Arma quid ultra
Littora Juvernæ promovimus & modo captas,
Orcadas, & minimâ contentos nocte Britannos?

For it is of the North and East parts of Britain, that the Panegyrist saith, O Britain, happy and fortunate beyond all Lands; and a little below, he speaks of their long days and light nights; and the Sun’s rather passing-by than setting. This is applied to the Northmost part of Britain by Tacitus, where he says of it, The length of the Day is much above the measure of our Climate; the Nights are light, and in the furthermost part of the Island so short, that between the going out and coming in of the day, the space is hardly perceived; and when Clouds do not hinder, they affirm that the Sun-shine is seen in the night, and that it neither sets nor rises, but passes along.

The ancient Scholiast, upon the word Juverna, says, It is an Island of Britain placed in the Ocean, not far from the thirty Isles of the Orcades; and adds, that in Hibernia, which is a part of Britain, at the Summer Solstice, there is no Night, or next to none. The Day here is eighteen hours and twenty five minutes; and, as Lesly in his History observes, in Ross, Caithness, and the Isles of Orkney, the Nights for two months are so clear, that one may read and write in them; which is confirm’d by those who live there.

Another property of Thule, given by Tacitus, is, that about it, is mare pigrum & grave remigantibus, a slow Sea, and difficult to Sailors. Which agrees indeed to the Sea upon the North-east part of Scotland, but not for the reason that Tacitus gives, i.e. for want of winds; but because of the contrary tides which drive several ways, and stop not only Boats with oars, but Ships under sail; so that there, if any where, it may be said of the Sea,

Nunc spumis candentibus astra lacessit,
Et nunc Tartareis subsidit in ima Barathris

Sometimes the foaming Billows swell amain,
Then suddenly sink down as low again.

But Thule is most expresly described to be this very same Country that we treat of, by Conradus Celtes; Itin. Balt.

Orcadibus qua cincta suis Tyle & glacialis Insula.—

Where Tyle and the Icy Island’s found,
With their own Orkney Isles encompass’d round.

This same Epithet Claudian gives to Ierne, where he calls it Glacialis Ierne; and this Thule he makes to be encompass’d suis Orcadibus, with it’s Orcades; which Isles lie over-against it: and a little after, he gives it the like Epithet with mare pigrum, the slow Sea:

Et jam sub septem spectant vaga rostra Triones,
Qua Tyle est
rigidis insula cincta vadis.

Now from their Ships they Charles’s wain espy,
Where Tyle in the rigid Seas doth lie.

And afterwards, he makes the Orcades to lie over-against this Thule, and seems to have in his eye the Skerries and Weels in Pightland Firth, in these lines;

Est locus Arctoo qua se Germania tractu
Claudit, & in rigidis Tyle ubi surgit aquis.
Quam juxta infames scopuli, & petrosa vorago,
Asperat undisonis saxa pudenda vadis.
Orcadas has memorant dictas à nomine Græco

Near th’ utmost Northern point of German shore,
And where in frozen Waters Tyle stands,
Are monstrous Rocks; and there, amidst the Rocks,
A Weel fills Shore and Rocks with dismal Roar.
These, Orcades, by a Greek name are call’d.

But the clearest Testimony of all, we owe to Arngrimus Jonas (Specimen Island. historic. part.2. pag.120.) where he brings-in the Verses of Fortunatus;

——Penetravit ad Indos,
Ingeniumque potens ultima Thule colit.

His Eloquence did reach the utmost Indies,
And powerful Wit enlighten’d farthest Thule.

And then, reckoning up the several Nations enlighten’d by him, he mentions Britain among the rest:

Thrax, Italus, Scytha, Persa, Indus, Geta, Daca, Britannus.

To which he adds, From whence it may fairly enough be infer’d, that either Britain, or (as Pliny will have it) some Island of Britain, was the Ultima Thule. And afterwards, To confirm the Opinion of Pliny and his followers, who will have some of the British Isles, or particularly that furthest in the Scottish Dominions, to be Thule; I must acknowledge, that the History of the Kings of Norway says the same thing, in the life of King Magnus, who in an Expedition to the Orcades, and Hebrides, and into Scotland and Britain, touched also at the Island of Thule, and subdued it.

By all which, I think, it appears sufficiently, that the North-east part of Scotland, which Severus the Emperor and Theodosius the Great infested with their Armies, and in which, as Boethius shews us, Roman Medals were found; is undoubtedly the Thule mention’d by the Roman Writers. And this also, if we will believe the learned Arngrimus Jonas, was meant by Ptolemy, where he saith, that to the 21st Parallel drawn through Thule by Ptolemy, the Latitude answers fifty five degrees, and thirty six minutes. So that our Country in those antient times pass’d under the name of Thule and Hibernia: and the Hiberni, and Picti incolæ Thules, are the same People who were afterwards call’d Scots.incolae Phaenician phoenician

It looks indeed, as if the name Scot at first was only proper to some Tribes of those People who call’d themselves Albinich; such as the Scoto-Brigantes mention’d by Seneca, and the Scottedeni in Ptolemy, which by the corruption of Copies is now read Ottedeni. But they, it seems, were never called Scots generally, nor their Country Scotia, till after the time of Keneth the second, who subdued the Pights, and incorporated them into one Nation with our Ancestors. Fascic. Temp. Yet Wernerus Ralwingius saith, In the time of Pope Linus, arose the Scottish Nation, of Picts and Hibernians, in Albania, which is a part of England; which confirms very much what we have been proving all along, but makes the name to have been used generally, sooner than appears to us from our Historians.

I shall only add one remark more, and that is, that we need not have recourse, for the rise of the name Scot, to the fabulous account of the Monks, who bring it from Scota, Pharaoh’s daughter, married to Gathelus; since, without that strain, if it be granted that the Country was once call’d Thule, which in the Phænician Language signifies Darkness, we have a very clear Reason for the name Scotia, which signifies the same in the Greek Tongue. And it is very well known, that it was usual with the Greeks (who next to the Phænicians were the best Navigators,) not only to retain the Phænician name of the place, but likewise to give one in their own language of the same import. And since the learned Bochartus has very ingeniously deduced the Greek name of the whole Island, Greek bretanike, from Bratanack and Barat anac, in the Phænician tongue signifying a Land of Tinn, (which the Greeks not only reduced to their own termination, but likewise call’d the British Isles Greek kaositerides, that is, Lands of Tinn, as is the signification of the Phænician and Greek names:) we may take the same liberty to derive the Greek name Scotia, from the Phænician Thule. This is so fully treated of in the Scotia Antiqua, that I need say no more.Acmodae Haemodes Laetus rabbits

Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 13:06