Blaeu Atlas of Scotland, 1654

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Name: Blaeu, Joan, 1596-1673  
Title: Nova Descriptio Praefectvrae Sterlinensis. Descriptio Fifae  
Pagination: 72-73
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Translation of text:

but it runs first from north to south, until it reaches the bottom of the mountains, after which it flows west; the streams name is Kelvin, that is, swift river; Kell is swift, and Win is water. Likewise in these mountains is born another stream, which from its many bends is called Campsie, for Campsi is curve and Ey is water; this stream flows into the River Endrick. From this stream the neighbouring range of mountains is called in the vernacular Campsie-hills, that is, mountains close to the winding stream. A little further to the west is the stream named Blane, bounding this prefecture at the part facing Lennox. Hence our greatest countryman (13), who was born on this stream, says that he was born in that province. After these is the noble River Endrick, flowing down from the aforesaid mountains towards the west, which after taking in several smaller streams discharges into Loch Lomond. This region of ours, where it separates into valleys and spreads out into plains, is here very productive of crops, there lovely with green meadows; where it rises in the mountains towards the south, it abounds in flocks of sheep; the mountain glens towards the north and west, green with grass and covered with woods, nurture innumerable cattle, from which comes the inhabitants greatest income. The streams in this region hold fish, in particular the Forth abounds in salmon. In the eastern part of the province in place of firewood they use black sulphurous stone, extracted from the bowels of the earth with very great labour (they commonly call it coal); almost all the remainder of the province uses for fire turf cut out of the black surface of the ground, a mixture of muddy, putrescent water and the mossy remains of trees which have lain on the ground for several centuries; this in the vernacular they call a Moss from the mossy material. The inhabitants of the mountains to the north and west burn wood, of which they have a good supply, because Loch Lomond bounds our province. This is a good opportunity to say a few words about it. From the west it extends in length about twenty four miles; from south to north on both sides it is girded with very high mountains, except at the south (14); its width is at the greatest point eight miles, at the smallest two. There are in it thirty islands, in three of which there were churches; there are several structures of beams fixed together (like the oldest rafts), covered with green turfs. Into these, in time of war, the inhabitants of the Loch used to retire with their wives, children and domestic effects, and these are the floating islands, about which writers tell fables; you may find the same kind in many other lochs. It is sheer nonsense about the waves on this Loch without a breath of wind; and the fish, which they say are without fins, are of the eel family, which in the vernacular they call Poans, so there is nothing strange. Of the mountains which hang over the Loch, by far the highest is that which takes its name from the Loch and is called Ben Lomond, that is Leimonian mountain. This region contains more or less twenty neighbourhoods or parishes, in each of which there is a sacred building for sacred meetings. The more notable families, who either live here or own ample estates, are these in particular. To begin from the east, they are the Livingstons, who own many properties here and in the south; 2. Bruces; 3. Elphinstons; 4. some Mores or Morays; 5. some Setons; 6. Grahams; 7. Napiers; next to them are the Buchanans, who own ample estates along the River Endrick on the south and Loch Lomond on the west; of these one is the main one, belonging to the head or Chief of the family, which they call in the vernacular Buchanan, whence the familys name. The word denoting the estate is a compound, and means low or depressed land beside waters: for Much or Buch means a low place, and Anan, waters: and such in truth is this rich estate, watered on the south by the Endrick, and Loch Lomond washes it on the west. Through this region of ours was taken the famous Wall of Severus, which we in the vernacular call by translation Graham’s Dyke, since Grame is to us what Severus is to Latins, and our Dyke is their wall. Now the wall begins on the Forth, not far from Abercorn, a little further on turning east in the land of Linlithgow; then it is taken west to Grange and Kinneil, known places; from here to Inneravon or the interior Avon, from where it goes on to the town of Falkirk, so called becuase it is set there in a high place; for Fal or Fel is a high place from the Greek phalos, which means the same, and Kerk or Kirk, from kerkos circle; for the oldest temples of the Gods were round. After this it comes to a place which in the vernacular is called Camelon, about which you may read much elsewhere, wherefore nothing on it here. From here the Wall procedes to the wood of Cumbernauld, where there was a very large fort, which in our vernacular is Castle Kain; from here the Wall is taken to Barhill, that is tower on a hill, for Bar is tower, and Hill is hill. Not long ago in this place were dug up several elegantly carved stones, with Roman inscriptions; some of these are preserved by neighbouring noblemen. Here the Wall leaves our province and enters Lennox, and it procedes to Kirkintilloch, that is temple set on the small hill of Kirk; for (15) Tilluc or Tilli is a small hill, or a place slightly raised; for here there was a great fort. From here the Wall extends to the mouth of the Clyde near Dunglass, that is rock on water: Dun is a mountain or rock and Glas water for the ancients. On the north side of the Wall, from one end to the other, was led a wide and deep ditch, close to the foot of the wall; there is a story that from one fort to the next there were underground paths, through which soldiers went secretly and communicated plans, as the situation demanded. The Wall is more or less thirty six miles in length, from east to west.

DESCRIPTION
OF FIFE
FROM CAMDEN (Section Note)

In this large region of the Caledonians, after the land of Stirling, which was discussed last, and two prefectures or sheriffdoms of lesser account, Clackmannan, the Knight for which is designated of Carse, and Kinross, over which the Earls (1) of Morton preside as sheriffs, the excellent peninsula of Fife, like a wedge between two estuaries, Forth and Tay, advances father to the east. The land generously produces crops and pastures and fossil coal, the sea besides other fish provides abundantly oysters and shell-fish, and the shores are planted with small towns, which abound in sturdy sailors. On the south side of it, on the Forth where it first turns west, appears Culross, a new barony of J. Colville; after that rises up the once famous monastery of Dunfermline, the work and tomb of King Malcolm III; now it provides the name and honour of Earl to the most prudent Alexander Seton, whom James King of the Britains long since deservedly raised from Baron of Fyvie to Earl of Dunfermline and Chancellor of the Kingdom of Scotland; his son is now Earl. After that Kinghorn sits on the estuary, from which by the grace of King James VI Patrick Lyon, Baron Glamis, recently took the title and honour of Earl. Afterwards Dysart is on the shore on a steep site; from there a heather-moor of the same name extends, where quite a large area, which they call the Coal-bed, abounds in earthy bitumen and burns in places, not without loss to the inhabitants. Next to it is Ravenshaugh, that is, steep hill of the ravens, the dwelling of the Barons of St Clair or Sinclair. Above that the River Leven enters the Forth; pouring out of Loch Leven (in which is a castle of the Douglases, now Earls of Morton), it has at its mouth Wemyss Castle, the seat of the noble family of the same surname, which James VI recently enlarged with the dignity of Baron. From here the shore continues in a twisted line to Fife Ness, that is the promontory or nose of Fife. Above it the archiepiscopal city of St Andrews looks out at the open ocean; the older name of the place was Regimund, that is, Mountain of St Regulus, as old papers show, in which is written, ‘Oengus or Ungus, King of the Picts, gave it to God and St Andrew, to be the head and mother of all churches in the kingdom of the Picts.’

Previously however Laurence Lindores and Richard Corvell (2), Doctors of Laws, publicly professing literature here, laid the foundations of the University, which by the happy increase in learned people, is now very famous for its three Colleges and the Regius Professors in them. In its praise, J. Johnston, Regius Professor of Divinity there, wrote these lines:

THE SHRINE OF REGULUS
or ST ANDREWS
It overhangs the ocean, defined by roads’ equal
Boundaries, how well surrounded by rich soil.
While with magnificent wealth remained the old glory
Of the Popes, here the Pontifical apex glittered.
It displays palaces of the Muses raised to heaven,
Delights of men, and delights of Gods.
Here is a shaded grove of Phoebus, and the sister Nymphs
Among whom white Urania shines forth.
She, when I return from long Teutonic shores,
Takes me up and sets me in an elevated position.
City too fortunate if it knew the Muses’ good
Gifts, and the blessed kingdom of the God of Heaven.
Drive from the city evil plagues and what is harmful to the Muses,
Kind God, let Peace and Piety exist together.

The small River Eden or Ethan enters the sea nearby; beginning near Falkland, belonging formerly to the Earls of Fife, now a royal retreat very conveniently sited for the pleasures of hunting, it flows under the continuous ridge of the hills which cut through the middle of this region, past Struthers, so called from a thicket of reeds, a castle of the Barons of Lindsay, and the famous burgh of Cupar, where the Sheriff dispenses justice. Concerning it the same J. Johnston writes:

CUPAR OF FIFE
Among fields and shades of grove and joyous pastures
Smoothly flowing Eden slips with glassy waters.
If any visitor from the lands of the French came here,
He might perchance think he was again seeing France.
Did it take its nature and fiery heart from here?
Or will it rather have drawn these from ancestral hearths?

Now on the shoreline facing north, on the Tay estuary once flourished two outstanding monasteries, Balmerino built by Queen Ermengard, wife of King William, daughter of the Viscount of Beaumont in France - it now enjoys its own Baron James Elphinston [now John his son] - and Lindores, constructed by David Earl of Huntingdon among woods,

  [Continuation of text]

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