Britannia, by William Camden


Scotland, in general.

Albania. Big A AS Albion was the first and most ancient name of Great Britain, that we meet with in the Greek and Latin Authors; so was Albania, of that northern part, which lay beyond the Humber and the Deva. Learned-men have deliver’d various reasons, why it should be so call’d; but the most probable of them is, from the ancient Inhabitants calling themselves Albanich, who likewise call’d their Country, Albin; and their posterity, the High-landers, do still retain the name in a part of their Country call’d Braid-Albin.

This Country, which, till our late Union, was known under the name of the Kingdom of Scotland, is divided from England by the water of Tweed, to Carhoom; then by Keddon-burn, Haddon-rigg, Black-down-hill, Morsla-hill, Battin-buss-hill, to the risings of the rivers Keal and Ted; after, by Kersop-burn, Liderwater, Esk, to the Tod-hills, the Marchdike, to White-sack and Solloway-frith. On the west, it hath the Irish-Sea; on the north, the Deucaledonian; and on the east, the German Ocean. On all which sides bordering upon the Sea, it hath several Isles belonging to it.

From the Mule of Galloway in the south, to Dungs-bay-head in the east-point of Cathness in the north, it is about two hundred and fifty miles long; and betwixt Buchan-ness on the east sea, and Ardnamurchan-point on the west, one hundred and fifty miles broad. The most southerly part of it, about Whitern, is fifty four degrees, fifty four minutes in Latitude; and in Longitude, fifteen degrees, forty minutes. The northermost part, the above-mentioned Dungsbay-head, is fifty eight degrees, thirty two (some say thirty) minutes in Latitude, and seventeen degrees, fifty minutes in Longitude. The longest day is about eighteen hours and two minutes; and the shortest night five hours and forty five minutes.

It was not without reason, that CæsarCaesar Coelum said of Britain,The air temperate. Cœlum Gallico temperatius, i.e. a Climate more temperate than that of Gaule; for even in North-Britain, the Air is more mild and temperate than in the Continent under the same Climate, by reason of the warm vapours from the sea upon all sides, and the continual breezes of the wind from thence. The heat in Summer is no way scorching. The constant winds purifie the air and keep it always in motion; so that there is seldom any Epidemick disease rages here.

The nature of the CountryHills in Scotland. is for the most part hilly and mountainous, there being but few plains, and they of no great extent. Those they have, are generally by the sea-side; and from thence the ground begins to rise sensibly, the farther in the Country the higher: so that, the greatest hills are in the middle of the Kingdom. These hills, especially upon the skirts of the Country, breed abundance of Cows, which not only afford store of butter and cheese to the Inhabitants, but likewise considerable profit by the vent of their hides and tallow, and the great numbers that are sold in South Britain. The size of these (as also of their sheep) is but small; but the meat of both is of an exceeding fine taste, and very nourishing. The High-Lands afford great Flocks of Goats, with store of Deer; and are clear’d from Wolves. The whole Country has good store and variety of fowl, both tame and wild.

The Quality of the soil,Quality of the Soil. compared in general with that of South Britain, is not near so good. It is commonly more fit for pasture, and is very well watered for that purpose. Where the surface is leanest, there are found Metals, and Minerals; and considerable quantities of Lead are exported yearly: there is also good Copper, but they will not be at the pains to work it. But in much of the in-land Country, especially where it lyeth upon some of the Friths, the soil is very good; and there, all sorts of grain do grow, that are usual in the South parts of Britain. The Wheat is frequently exported by Merchants to Spain, Holland, and Norway. Barley grows plentifully; and their Oats are extreme good, affording bread of a clean and wholsom nourishment. In the Low grounds they have store of Pease and Beans, which, for the strength of their feeding, are much used by the labouring-people. In the skirts of the Country, which are not so fit for Grain, there grow great Woods of Timber, to a vast bigness, especially Firr-trees, which are found to thrive best in stony grounds.

Springs of Mineral-waters (which the people find useful in several diseases,) are common enough. No Country is better provided with Fish. porpoise beaching Besides flocks of smaller Whales, with the Porpess, and the Meerswine, frequently cast in; great Whales of the Baleen or Whale-bone kind, and of the Sperma Ceti kind, are cast now and then upon several parts of the shore.

Besides the grain and other commodities already named, the Merchants export alabaster, linnen, and woollen cloath, freezes, plaids, plaiding, stuff, stockings, malt and meal, skins of Rabbets, Hares, &c. fishes, eggs, oker, marble, coal, and salt.

Christianity early in North Britain. The Christian Religion was very early planted here; for Tertullian’s words, Britannorum inaccessa Romanis loca, Christo verò subdita, i.e. Places in Britain, inaccessible to the Romans, but subdu’d by Christ, must be understood of the north part of the Island, possessed by the Scots, and separated by a wall from that part which was subject to the Romans. The Religion of the Kingdom established by Law, is that which is contain’d in the Confession of Faith, authoriz’d in the first Parliament of King James the sixth, and defined in the nineteenth Article of the said Confession, to be That which is contained in the written word of God.

Learning in North Britain. For the promotion of Learning, they have four Universities, St. Andrews, Glasgow, Aberdeen, and Edenburgh; wherein are Professors of most of the Liberal Arts, endowed with competent Salaries.⌉


Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:52