Britannia, by William Camden


The Cantæ. Big R ROSSE, so call’d from an old Scottish word, which some interpret a Promontory, others a Peninsula, was in Ptolemy’s time inhabited by a People called Cantæ; a word which imports something like it. Cantae This extends to such a wideness, that it hath a prospect of both Oceans. ⌈It comprehends the Shires of Tayn and Cromartie. The first includes the greater part of Rosse, with the Isles of Skye, Lewis, and Herris; the second, a small part of Rosse, lying on the South-side of Cromartie-Frith. It is in length fifty, and in breadth thirty miles.⌉ On that side, where it views the Vergivian or western Ocean, it rises up in swelling Mountains, with many Woods, full of Stags, Roe-bucks, fallow Deer, and wild Fowl. On the other side, next the German sea, it is more fruitful, having much Corn and Pasture-grounds, and is much better cultivated. ⌈The Straths or Valleys upon the water-sides, are full of Wood; particularly, upon Charron, and upon the water of Braan, and near Alfarig, there are great Woods of Firr.⌉

In the very enterance into it, Ardmanoch,The Barony of Ardmanoch. no small territory (which is one of the titles of the second Sons of the Kings of Scotland) shoots up in very high Mountains †Nivi sidissimis. generally covered with Snow. I have been told by some persons very strange Stories of their height;The height of Hills, and the depth of the Sea: Plutarch. in P. Æmil. concerning Olympus. and yet the ancient Geometricians have written, that neither the depth of the Sea, nor the height of the Mountains, exceed by line and level, ten Stadia, that is a mile and a quarter. Which, however, they who have beheld Tenariff among the Canary Islands (fifteen leagues high) and have sailed the neighbouring Sea, will by no means admit. In these parts stands Lovet,Lovet. a Castle and Barony of the noble family of the Frasers, who were made Barons, as it is said, by King James the second, for the singular Services they had done the Crown of Scotland. This Family had been entirely extinguished, in a Quarrel, by the Clan-Ranalds, a most bloody People, had not four-score of the principal of them, by good Providence, left their Wives big with child at home; who being delivered of so many Sons, renewed and restored the Family.

Tain.Tain, a good trading Town, is a Royal Burgh, and gives name to the Shire. Its Firth is about twenty miles long, but admitteth not Ships. Loughbruin-Bay,Loughbruin-Bay. which is ten miles long, is famous for the vast number of Herrings taken in it. Dingwall,Dingwall. another Burgh-Royal, is situate in the utmost part of the Firth; to the North of which lies the great Mountain Weeves.⌉

At Nesse-mouth stood Chanonry,Chanonry. formerly a noted place, and so called from a rich College of Canons in the flourishing times of the Church; in which was erected a See for the Bishop of Rosse. ⌈It had a large Cathedral Church, part whereof still remains. At present, it shows a stately House of the Earl of Seaforth, who has considerable Revenues in this County.⌉ Cromartie. Hard by, is Cromartie, where Urqhuart, a Gentleman of noble extraction, † † Administers, C.administer’d Justice as hereditary Sheriff of this District: and this is so commodious, and so safe a Harbour for any Fleet, though never so great, that Mariners and Geographers give it the name of Portus Salutis,Portus Salutis. or the Haven of Safety. ⌈It is a Royal Burgh, the Firth whereof is about fifteen miles long, and in many places two miles broad: though the entrance of it be narrow, yet is it very safe and easie. Into this, runneth the water of Connel, famous for the Pearls found in it. The Viscount of Tarbat, who has his residence at Tarbat, is now Sheriff and Proprietor of that ancient Estate. Sir George Mackenzie of Tarbat Baronet, were created Viscount Tarbat, and Lord Macleod and Castle-haven, by King James the seventh; and was advanced by Queen Anne to the higher honour of Earl of Cromartie.

In this Country, resided the Lairds of Kintail, who, in the reign of King James the sixth, were advanced to the honour of Peerage, by the title of Lords Mackenzie of Kintail;Kintail. and after that to the higher honour of Earls of Seaforth.⌉

Above the Harbour, is Littus Altum,Littus Altum. mention’d by Ptolemy, and called now, as it should seem, Tarbarth: for there the shore rises to a great height;The River Celnius or Killian. enclosed on one side with Cromer, the secure Harbour we just now mentioned; and on the other, with the river Celnius, now Killian. And thus much of the places towards the Eastern Ocean.

Into the Western Sea runs the river Longus,Longus, riv. mentioned by Ptolemy, and now called Logh-Longas: Next, the CeronesCerones. anciently dwelt where now Assenshire is; a Country, cut and divided by several Arms of the Sea. ⌈Andrew Keith (one of the Commissioners sent to treat of a marriage between King James the sixth, and Anna then Princess of Denmark) was created Lord Keith of Dingwall; who dying without issue, the same King advanced to the same Honour Sir Richard Preston, who was in great favour with him, and had been made one of the Knights of the Bath, at his Majesty’s Coronation.⌉

Earls of Ross. It would be a very difficult Work, to draw a perfect succession of the Earls of Ross, out of the several Historians. About † † Four, C.five hundred years ago, Ferqhuard flourish’d under this title; but upon the failure of issue-male, it came by a daughter to Walter Lesley (who, for his valiant atchievements under Lewis the Emperor, was deservedly stiled the Noble or Generous Knight;) by whom he had Alexander Earl of Ross, and a daughter married to Donald Lord of the Western Isles. This Alexander had issue one only daughter, who passed over all her right and title to Robert Duke of Albany; which so enrag’d Donald of the Isles, that in the reign of James the third, he proclaim’d himself King of the Isles, and Earl of Ross, and destroy’d the Country round with fire and sword. At length, King James the third did by Authority of Parliament, in the year 1476, annex the Earldom of Ross to the Crown; and in such manner, that it might not be lawful for his Successors to alienate from it either the Earldom it self, or any part thereof; or to grant the same to any person, but only to the King’s second Sons lawfully begotten. Whereupon Charles second Son of King ⌈James the sixth,⌉ and Duke of York, * * Now enjoys, C.enjoy’d that Title.

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