A Purely Celtic Family

Portrait of George Campbell, 8th Duke of Argyll by George Frederic Watts;. National Portrait Gallery: NPG 1263

Yet from the moment that the standard of national independence was raised by Bruce, he had no more devoted adherents than among the purest Celts, whilst some of his bitterest and most dangerous opponents were the descendants and representatives of western and northern Clans who had collected under Norseman Chieftains. Among the earliest of his followers, and among the most constant, was the purely Celtic family from which I am descended—a family of Scoto-Irish origin—that is to say, belonging to that Celtic colony from Ireland which founded the Dalriadic Kingdom, and to whom the name of Scots originally and exclusively belonged. The name when it first appears in writing is always Cambel, and never Campbell, the letter p having been subsequently introduced in connection with the fashion which set in at one time to claim Norman lineage as more honourable than the Celtic. But the name as universally written for many generations is a purely Celtic word, conceived in the ancient Celtic spirit of connecting personal peculiarities with personal appellatives. “Cam” is “curved,” and is habitually applied to the curvature of a bay of the sea. The other syllable “bel” is merely a corruption of the Celtic word “beul,” meaning “mouth.” So, in like manner, the purely Celtic name of another Highland family, Cameron, is derived from the same word “Cam,” and “srón” the nose. But that portion of the Celtic race which first owned the name of Scots must have had in its character and development something which made it predominant, so that its name came to be that of the whole united Monarchy. Probably all its Chiefs had a memory and traditions which predisposed them to fight for that Monarchy as their own. Certain it is that Sir Nigel Cambel fought with, and for, the Bruce in all his battles from Methven Bridge to Bannockburn, and was finally rewarded by the hand of the Lady Mary, sister of the heroic King, who achieved the final independence of his Country.

— George Douglas Campbell, 8th Duke of Argyll, Scotland As It Was and Is, Volume 1, Edinburgh, 1887, pp. 33-34.

Bruce’s Siege of Dunstaffnage

Ground plan of Dunstaffnage Castle, from MacGibbon, David, The Castellated and Domestic Architecture of Scotland, Vol. I, Edinburgh: D. Douglas, 1887.

Courtyard of Dunstaffnage Castle, from MacGibbon, David, The Castellated and Domestic Architecture of Scotland, Vol. I, Edinburgh: D. Douglas, 1887.
West elevation of Dunstaffnage Castle, from MacGibbon, David, The Castellated and Domestic Architecture of Scotland, Vol. I, Edinburgh: D. Douglas, 1887.
Plan of battlements of Dunstaffnage Castle, from MacGibbon, David, The Castellated and Domestic Architecture of Scotland, Vol. I, Edinburgh: D. Douglas, 1887.

De conflictu regis Roberti contra Ergadienses

Eodem anno [1308] infra octavas Ascencionis beatae Virginis Mariae idem rex Ergadiensis devicit in medio Ergadiae et totam terram sibi subegit, ducem eorum nomine Alexandrum de Argadia fugientem ad castrum de Dunstafinch per aliquod tempus inibi obsedit, qui eidem regi Castrum reddidit et sibi homagium facere recusans, dato salvo conductu sibi et omnibus secum recedere volentibus in Angliam fugit et ibidem debitum naturae persolvit.

John of Fordun, Chronica Gentis Scotorum, cxxvi.

The king that stout wes stark and bauld
Till Dunstaffynch rycht sturdely
A sege set and besily
Assaylit the castell it to get,
And in schort tym he has thaim set
In swilk thrang that tharin war than
That magre tharis he it wan,
And ane gud wardane tharin set
And betaucht hym bath men and met
Sua that he lang tyme thar mycht be
Magre thaim all off that countre.

John Barbour, The Brus, x. 112-122.

Coigerach

The Coigerach (crosier, though the word itself signifies pilgrim or stranger) of St. Fillan in the Museum of Scotland.
The Coigerach (crosier, though the word itself signifies pilgrim or stranger) of St. Fillan in the Museum of Scotland.

Among the charters of lands, were found some documents of a less common character, and affecting less substantial rights, viz., the privileges attached to the custody of a certain relic of St. Fillan. Fillan, the son of Kentigerna, was of old reverence in the valleys of Breadalbane, and his monastery in Glendochart was still of such consequence in the time of William the Lion, that the Abbot, whether then a churchman or secularised, was named among the magnates of power to support the operation of a particular law beyond the reach of common legal process. It was a century later that a relic of St. Fillan is said (by Boece) to have been the subject of a notable miracle, which Bruce turned to account for encouraging his soldiers at Bannockburn. The story may be received as evidence of the reverence paid to St. Fillan in the historian’s time. That it continued afterwards, we learn from the following documents, though, I fear, they shew that his relics were degraded to the purpose of tracing stolen goods. The particular one which forms the subject of these instruments, the Coygerach, was known within the present generation in the hands of the family of Jore or Dewar, who so early vindicated its possession. It is the head of a staff or crozier of a Bishop or mitred Abbot, of silver gilt, elaborately and elegantly ornamented with a sort of diapered chasing. It is described and figured in the Transactions of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Vol. III., p. 290; and in Dr. Wilson’s Archaeology of Scotland, p. 664.

Two of these documents have been printed before, but from imperfect and faulty copies. They are now given for the originals:–

I.

Hec Inquisitio facta apud Kandrochid xxii die mensis Aprilis, anno Domini millesimo quadringentesimo xxviii., coram Johanne de Spens de Perth, ballivo de Glendochirde, de et super autoritate et privilegijs cujusdam Reliquie Sancti Felani, que vulgariter dicitur Coygerach, per istos subscriptos, viz.: Karulum Cambell, Reginaldum Malcolmi, Donaldum M’Arthour, Cristinum Malcolmi, Johannem M’Nab, Patricium M’Nab, Johannem Alexandri M’Nab, Johannem Menzies, Duncanum Gregorii, Dugallum Gregory, Duncanum Elpine, Alexandrum M’Austillan, Nicolaum Gregorij, Johannem M’Callura, et Felanum Pauli, Qui jurati magno sacramento dicunt, Quod lator ipsius reliquie de Coygerach, qui Jore vulgariter dicitur, habere debut annuatim et hereditarie a quolibet inhabitante parochiam de Glendochirde, habente vel laborante mercatam terre, sive libere sive pro finna, dimidiam bollam farine, et de quolibet in dicta parochia habente dimidiam mercatam terre ut predicitur, libere vel pro firma, medium farine, et de quolibet in ista parochia habente quadraginta denariatas terre, dimidiam modij farine. Et si quivis alius inhabitans dictam parochiam magis quam mercatam terre haberet nihil magis solveret quam ordinatum fuit de una mercata terre. Et quod officium gerendi dictam reliquiam dabatur cuidam progenitori Finlai Jore latoris presentium hereditarie, per successorem Sancti Felani, cui officio idem Finlaius est verus et legittimus heres. Et quod ipsa privilegia usa fuerunt et habita in tempore Regis Roberti Bruys et in tempore omnium regum a tunc usque in hodiernum diem. Pro quibus commodis et privilegijs, prefati jurati dicunt quod si contigerit aliqua bona vel catalla rapta esse vel furata ab aliquo dictam parochiam de Glendochirde inhabitante, et is a quo ipsa bona vel catalla rapta essent vel furata, propter dubium sue persone vel inimicitias hostium, eadem bona vel catalla prosequi non auderet, tunc unum servum suum vel hominem mitteret ad eundem Jore de le Coygerach, cum quatuor denariis vel pare sotularum, cum victu prime noctis, et tunc idem Jore abinde suis proprijs expensis prosequetur dicta catalla ubicunque exinde sectum querere poterit infra regnum Scotie. Et hec universa per dictam iniquisitionem fuerunt inventa, anno, die, loco et mense predominates. In cujus rei testimonium sigillum Johannis de Spens ballivi antedicti presentibus est appensum, anno, die, et loco supradictis.

II.

Another Instrument, not hitherto printed, records that on the 9th of February 1468, Margaret de Striveling, lady of Glenurquha,–

In curia de Glendochyrt tenta apud Kandrocht Kilin per balivum ejusdem a Johanne M’Molcalum M’Gregour petiit firmas suas de terris de Coreheynan. Qui Johannes respondebat plane in facie prefate curie coram omnibus ibidem existentibus denegauit et dixit quod non accepit assedationem dictarum terrarum a dicta domina Margareta sed a Deore de Meser et quod non tenebatur in aliquas firmas de terminis elapsis quia solvit illas dicto Deor’ a quo accepit prefatas terras. Testibus, Colino Campbel de Glenurquhay milite, domino Mauricio M’Nachtag et domino Roberto M’Inayr, vicariis de Inchecadyn et Kilin, Johanne de Stirling, &c.

III.

LITERA PRO MALISEO DOIRE, COMMORAN’ IN STRAFULANE.

JAMES be the grace of God King of Scottis to all and sindri our liegis and subditis spirituale and temporale to quhois knaulege this our lettre salcum greting. Forsemekle as we haue undirstand that our servitour Malice Doire and his forebearis has had ane Relik of Sanct Fulane callit the Quegrith in keping of us and of oure progenitouris of maist nobill mynde quham God assolye sen the tyme of King Robert the Bruys and of before, and made nane obedience nor ansuere to na persoun spirituale nor temporale in ony thing concernyng the said haly Relik uthir wayis than is contenit in the auld infeftments thereof made and grantit be oure said progenitouris; We chairg you therefor strately and commandis that in tyme to cum ye and ilkane of you redily ansuere, intend and obey to the said Malise Doire in the peciable broiking joicing of the said Relik, and that ye na nain of you tak upon hand to compell nor distrenye him to mak obedience nor ansuere to you nor till ony uthir bot allenarly to us and oure successouris, according to the said infeftment and fundatioun of the said Relik, and siclike as wes uss and wount in the tyme of oure said progenitouris of maist nobill mynde of before; And that ye mak him nane impediment, letting nor distroublance in the passing with the said Relik throu the contre, as he and his forebearis wes wount to do; And that ye and ilk ane of you in oure name and autorite kepe him unthrallit, bot to remane in siclike fredome and liberte of the said Relik, like as is contenit in the said infeftment, undir all the hiest pane and charge that ye and ilk ane of you may amitt, and inrun anent us in that pairt. Gevin undir oure priue sele at Edinburgh this vj day of Julij, the yere of God jm iiijc lxxxvii yeris and of oure regnne the xxvij yere.

JAMES R.

The Coygerach of St. Fillan was long afterwards known in the Highlands of Perthshire. The last of these deeds was registered as a probative writ at Edinburgh, 1st November 1734 ; and M. Latocnaye, who made a tour in Britain in this notice of the 1795, gives notice of the Relic,– “Ayant vu l’annonce d’une fameuse relique, en la possession d’un paysan aux environs, nous avons demandé à la voir. Elle ressemble assez au haut bout d’une crosse d’évêque, et est d’argent doré. Le bon homme qui nous l’a montré, et qui gagne quelque pen d’argent avec elle, vraisemblablement pour augmenter notre intérêt, nous a dit très sérieusement, que quand les bestiaux étaient enragés, il suffisait de leur faire boire de l’eau passée par l’intérieur de sa relique; l’eau bouillone sur le champ quand le remède ne veut pas opérer, (d’où on pourrait conclure qu’il opère souvent,) et que l’on venait de plus de cent milles chercher de son eau. . . Quoiqu’il en soit, j’ai été charmé de trouver une relique parmi les Presbyteriens.”

The Relic, it is believed, has been for some years in Canada, but whether it retains its virtues in the New World is unknown.

— reproduced in Cosmo Nelson Innes’ Preface to The Black Book of Taymouth: with Other Papers from the Breadalbane Charter Room, Edinburgh, 1850.

Fareweel Our Ancient Glory

Scottish association football supporter waives the Saltire in Trafalgar Square with Gig Ben in the background.
Scottish association football supporter waives the Saltire in Trafalgar Square with Big Ben in the background.

Fareweel to a’ our Scottish fame,
Fareweel our ancient glory;
Fareweel ev’n to the Scottish name,
Sae fam’d in martial story.
Now Sark rins over Solway sands,
An’ Tweed rins to the ocean,
To mark where England’s province stands-
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!

What force or guile could not subdue,
Thro’ many warlike ages,
Is wrought now by a coward few,
For hireling traitor’s wages.
The English stell we could disdain,
Secure in valour’s station;
But English gold has been our bane-
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!

O would, or I had seen the day
That Treason thus could sell us,
My auld grey head had lien in clay,
Wi’ Bruce and loyal Wallace!
But pith and power, till my last hour,
I’ll mak this declaration;
We’re bought and sold for English gold-
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!

Such a Parcel o’ Rogues in a Nation, Robert Burns, 1791.

Tae Win Oor Liberty

Crucifixion of St. Andrew; Carlo Braccesco, 1495; Galleria Franchetti, Ca’ d’Oro, Venice, Italy.
Crucifixion of St. Andrew; Carlo Braccesco, 1495; Galleria Franchetti, Ca’ d’Oro, Venice, Italy.

By the cross oor Andrew bore
By the sword oor William wore
By the crown our Robert swore
Tae win oor Liberty
Ca’ the falcon frae the glen,
Ca’ the eagle frae the ben
Ca’ the lion frae his den
Tae win oor Liberty

By the man wha’s faith was old
By the man they sold for gold
By the man they’ll never hold
Tae win oor Liberty
Ca’ the thieves o’ Liddesdale
Ca’ the spears o’ Annandale
Ca’ the brave o’ Yarrowvale
Tae win oor Liberty

By the arm that bends the bow
By the arm that plies the blow
By the arm that lays them low
Tae win oor Liberty
Ca’ the banners frae the West
Ca’ the raven frae his nest
Ca’ the clans that dance the best
Tae win oor Liberty

By the field that once was green
By the shield of silver sheen
By the sword in battle keen
Tae win oor Liberty
Bless the man wha’s faith we hold
Bless the man in chains they sold
Bless the man in cloth o’ gold
Wha’ won oor Liberty
Bless the man in cloth o’ gold
Wha’ won oor Liberty

Liberty, The Corries.

St. Conan’s Kirk

Rex Scottorum

Seal of Robert the Bruce, King of Scots.