Blaeu Atlas of Scotland, 1654

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Name: Blaeu, Joan, 1596-1673  
Title: Nova Fifae Descriptio. Nova Descriptio  
Pagination: 76-77
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Translation of text:

839 A.D., the Scots succeeded them and with admirable constancy defended their homes, won by right of war, first against Britons, and Anglo-Saxons, who were displeased at such a large increase in a rival, neighbouring kingdom, Danes and Norwegians given to booty and rape, and then the most insensate enemies of the name of Christ. However in later times, by the cruelty and treachery of Edward I, King of England, it along with almost the whole kingdom suffered the greatest changes, which God did not allow to be long-lasting; for by the courage first of Vallas, in the vernacular Wallace, then of David Bruce son of Robert the whole kingdom was restored to its original freedom, and this province too rightfully returned to its original state, and has since experienced no disasters, except those common to the whole kingdom. The whole south coast is girt with frequent small towns, which today have grown into towns; among them the following enjoy the right to vote in the supreme assemblies of the kingdom: Culross, Inverkeithing, Burntisland, Kinghorn, Kirkcaldy, Dysart, Pittenweem, Anstruther Wester, Anstruther Easter, Kilrenny, and Crail; and on the east coast St Andrews; in the middle of the province, Cupar of Fife, to distinguish it from the other Cupar in Angus, to which add Dunfermline; there is also the elegant small town of Falkland, where the magnificent royal palace is to be seen, with a very pleasant prospect over the neighbouring wood and plain; but it does not yet enjoy the right of voting in assemblies. Torry, Aberdour, both Wemyss, Leven, Elie, and St Monan’s are populous small towns on the north shore of the Forth, the homes of fishermen and sailors. Opposite Gowrie lies Neapolis, in the vernacular Newburgh, situated on the south of the Tay, where the estuary is pressed into the form of a true river. To the west of Loch Leven is Kinross, a well-populated small city: and all these, although they enjoy markets, are deprived of the privileges of royal burghs and denied the right of voting in assemblies.

[Concerning the coastal towns of Fife, Arthur Johnston wrote these verses (Section Note):
The towns, which Forth washes in a long area from here,
Grampian then protects from blasts from the north.
Neptune’s right hand taught you to bend oars
And to spread hollow sails to the cloudy south winds.
Neither voracious Scylla nor vast Charybdis terrifies you,
Nor the seas which Dulichia’s craft feared.
Whether you choose to try the Syrtes or to scrape past
The Cyanean rocks, no route is impassable to you.
Nor is it enough to plough the open sea, the land of Fergus
Is compelled to open its hidden gulfs to you.
You seek the fires shut up in its bosom,
And you almost see the shores of Tartarean Jove.
By your arts the liquid sea is forced to turn to stone
And that becomes salt, which was formerly water.
Lest Saxon boast of salt-works cut out of mountains,
More generously the sea provides these riches to you.
Let Scotland celebrate you, without your gift winters
Are too dreadful, and banquets insipid.]

But among all the towns the first place is easily claimed by St Andrew’s Shrine, or Andreapolis, St Andrews, formerly the archiepiscopal seat. It is situated in a plain, and stretches from east to west with a very pleasant prospect to the adjacent German Sea, which supplies with bountiful hand all kinds of sea fish, and on the south-east makes a harbour, which however is not sufficiently suited to larger ships. It has a castle on the rocks facing the sea to the north, formerly well-fortified, which was disgracefully laid waste by the French, when they were avenging the deserved slaying of Cardinal Beaton, in the year 1547, and is now partly ruinous. It has straight streets, some wide and mutually intersecting; the streets go from west to east, and two of them lead straight to the Monastery of the Canons Regular of the order of St Augustine, once famous but now having completed its fate, situated to the south-east and south-south-east. Its ruins show that nothing was less to the liking of the monks than poverty, which they falsely asserted with such brilliance: for the wall, still complete, that bounds the monastery is of squared stone, with many defences and towers, and is more suited to a royal palace and inhabitants luxuriating in abundance of all material things, than to the cells of monks who give up everything for the sake of Christ. There is here the famous Academy or University, first of all, furnished with ample revenues and privileges by James I, in the year 1426; it comprises three colleges, St Salvator’s, St Mary’s, and St Leonard’s. In furnishing the last of these the singular generosity shone out of the most noble sponsor of genius, Sir John Scot of Scotstarvit, Knight, when to the earlier chairs of philosophy he added a new one of humanity or eloquence, providing a generous stipend, which he wished to be in perpetuity; by his liberality also the College’s public Library experienced a large increase.

[About St Andrews there are these verses of Arthur Johnston:
Sacred city, recently you were venerated by the whole world,
Nor was there in the whole world a more holy place.
Jupiter blushed on seeing your temples,
And there was great complaint about the Tarpeian chapel.
On gazing at these too the founder of the Ephesian church
Himself justly mocked and hated his own work
The priests with their vestments equalled the marble of the temples,
And everything was full of divine brilliance.
The head of the sacred order here, admirable in gold,
Gave our fathers all the laws that Scotland has.
The old glory has perished; the temples have come to ruin,
And the former brilliance of the priests does not survive:
Yet you are a city sacred to the Muses and the servants of Phoebus,
Nor is that honour greater than your merits.
With soft light Dawn who loves the Muses looks on you
And breathes gently with her rosy horses.
In the new morning near the house of the Muses murmurs
Hoarse Thetis, and orders sleep to be brief.
Close by is the field, here youth tired by studies
Refreshes itself and takes hence new strength.
Phocis was once the love of Phoebus, Acte of Pallas,
In you each has now fixed an enduring dwelling.]

Abbeys (4), priories, several monasteries, founded especially by the generosity of kings, were formerly valued; but with the reformation of religion, first they were annexed to the Royal crown, then given to nobles, by whom they are today held as feudal regalities.

There is no province of the Kingdom, which has more resident nobles. Among the Earls are numbered Rothes, the head of the great family of Leslie, hereditary viscount, in the vernacular sheriff, or prefect for dispensing justice and for capital matters in the province; at Cupar the inhabitants of every class gather to receive justice from him, except that in less serious cases the royal burghs enjoy their own justice. Moray from the Stewart family built the castle of Donibristle, adjacent to which is the most beautiful garden, of a quality unequalled in all Scotland, with the surrounding Barony. Morton, Douglas, is hereditary owner of Aberdour and elsewhere. Crawford, Lindsay, who is also hereditary judge of criminal matters in the bishopric of St Andrews, has several ample castles, among which stands out Struthers, with its adjoining park of 4 or 5 miles most suited for keeping stags and deer. Leven from the family of Leslie, now supreme commander of the Scottish army, has the castle of Balgonie on the right bank of the River Leven. Kinghorn, head of the family of Lyon, owns the old castle of the King’s Horn at the town of Kinghorn, destroyed with only its walls remaining, and received these lands when his predecessor took as his wife the daughter of King Robert II. Kelly, head of the family of Fenton, owns the very elegant castle of Kellie. Earl of Dunfermline, of the family of Seton, in the town of the same name. Wemyss, of Wemyss, owns very ample estates and several castles. Southesk, of Carnegie, has the castle of Leuchars. Dalhousie, of Ramsay, at Abbots-court. And these are all the earls.

Viscount Dudhope, head of the family of Scrimgeours, owns the barony and castle of Inverkeithing. As greater Barons, who have castles and baronies, are classed Sinclair of Sinclair, Elphinston of Balmerino, Balfour of Burghleigh, Leslie of Lindores, Melville of Melville, Lindsay of Balcarres, and Murray of Balvaird.

Each of these nobles holds a seat and vote in the supreme Assemblies of Parliament, among the greater nobles, whom in the vernacular the Scots call Lords. Next to these are the local rulers and minor Barons, whom in the vernacular they call Small Barons and Lairds; in their own territories the right of furca and fossa belongs to them; each of them at one time had a vote in the supreme Assemblies of the Kingdom and they came in the name of free tenants in chief of the Lord King, but now they are represented by two persons delegated by them, and with the other delegates of the Barons of the Kingdom they make the second class of the Kingdom in the Assemblies. In their territories they enjoy equal rights with the greater nobles.

The subjoined catalogue shows the names of some of these minor nobles, in alphabetical order, so that none may complain that an inferior is preferred to them:

Auchmuty, Arnot of Fernie, Ayton, Anstruther, Areskine of Endertill, Beatoun of Balhom, Beatoun of Creich, Balfour of Kinnbaird, Barclay of Colairnie, Balcanqual, Bruce of Earlshall, Bruce of Carnock, Brown of Fordell, Boswell of Balmuto, Colville of Cleish, Carstairs of Kilconquhar, Crichton of Lwydoun, Crichton of Abercrombie, Cunningham of Barns, Clephane of Carslogie, Forbes of Rires, Gibson of Durie, Hamilton of Kynbrachmont, Halkett of Pitfirrane, Henderson of Fordell, Hay of Naughton, Hope of Craighall, Heriot of Ramornie, Inglis, Kirkcaldy of Grange, Kynninmont, Kinnear, Lindsay of Wormiston, Leslie of Newtoun, Lundie alias Maitland, Lumsden of Innergellie, Learmonth of Balcomie, Monypenny of Pitmilly, Moncrieff of Balcaskie, Moncreiff of Randerston, Melville of Burntisland, Myrton of Cambo, Makgill of Rankeillor, Orrok, Pitcairn of Forfar, Preston of Valleyfield, Preston of Airdrie, Sandilands of St Monans, Scot of Scotstarvit, Scott of Ardross, Scott of Rossie, Scott of Pitledy, Sibbald of Rankeillour, Wardlaw of Pitreavie, Wemyss of Bogie, Wood.

The harbour of Elie was constructed by Lord William Scott, Baron of Ardross, made of stone in such a manner that it can rival works of the Romans; that was done in the year 1620, at his own expense, with no assistance from the burghs.


On the Map of FIFE,
By the same Author

As the oldest inhabitants of this area our historians recognise the Picts, with whom the Danes disputed over its ownership. The very situation of the region seems to make this probable; for as it projects and runs into the sea between two estuaries, the rich region seems to have attracted these raiders, as they will have eagerly sought not only this land but also whatever touches on this sea. Nevertheless it was held by the Picts, and it came from them into Scottish control along with their kingdom.

The old Pictish name has perished, and, as

  [Continuation of text]

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