Blaeu Atlas of Scotland, 1654

Name: Blaeu, Joan, 1596-1673  
Title: Scotiae  
Pagination: 20-21
Zoom view:         Click on the image to view in greater detail  
29 / 162
Scroll through pages:       First       Previous       Next       Last

Translation of text:

to distinguish them. From this very narrow front between the two rivers begins Mar, and gradually widening out it extends sixty miles in length as far as Badenoch. That region consists of a continuous ridge, and turns out rivers to both seas. Sharing a boundary with Badenoch is Aber, moderately inclined to the Deucaldonian Sea, a region (for Scotland) especially abundant in sea and land commodities. For it is happy above all in crops and pastures, and especially pleasant with the shade of trees and the beauty of rivulets and springs. In the provision of fish it yields to almost no region of Scotland. For in addition to a supply of river-fish, which so many streams provide, the sea penetrates pouring over the level soil in a long canal, and constrained there by a slightly higher edge of the land, it pours out and makes a kind of pool or rather lake: hence they call it Aber, that is lying in the native tongue. They give the same name to the neighbouring region round about. Those who speak English call both, that is that sea-loch and the region, wrongly and absurdly Lochaber. These three regions, Aber, Badenoch and Mar, comprise the width of Scotland between the two seas. On the northern side next to Mar is Buchan, divided from it by the River Don. Of all the regions of Scotland it stretches the farthest into the German Sea. It is quite fortunate in pastures and the provision of sheep, and is self-sufficient in the other necessities of life. Although its rivers abound in salmon, however that kind of fish does not enter the River Rattray. On its shore there is a cave, whose nature should not, it seems, be overlooked. The water, dripping from a natural vault, immediately turns into pyramids of stone, and if the cave were not cleared quickly by the work of men, the space would shortly be filled up to the vault. The stone which is thus formed has a character half way between ice and rock; for it is friable and does not ever solidify to the hardness of marble. When I was at Toulouse, about the year 1544, I learned from trustworthy men that there was a cave similar in all respects to this in the nearby Pyrenees. Beyond Buchan to the north are two small regions, Boyne and Enzie, which continue as far as the River Spey, which separates them from Moray. Now the Spey rises in the ridge of Badenoch, which we have mentioned; not far from its source is the loch, from which emerges the Lochy and flows to the western sea. At its mouth was they say a noble town, named from the river Inverlochy. Certainly if you look at the nature of the neighbouring land or the ease of navigation and sea-transport, the place is very suited for a market. The old kings too, following these advantages, lived there for some centuries in the castle of Evonia[?], which now many are falsely persuaded was Stephanodunum. For the ruins and traces of that castle are now pointed out in Lorne. There are some small regions between Buchan and the western sea; but as they have nothing distinguished and sufficiently memorable to be narrated, there is no reason to spend time in enumerating them. Beyond the Spey as far as the Ness there follows Moray, once (as is believed) called Varar. Between these rivers the German Ocean, driving the land as it were to the west, checks its width with a vast gulf. The whole of this region is fertile in crops and pastures, and easily the first in all the kingdom for beauty and production of fruit trees. It has two towns worth mention, Elgin on the River Lossie, which still keeps its old name, and Inverness on the river of the same name. The Ness flows from Loch Ness, which is twenty four miles long. Its water is always quite warm, and is never so cold as to freeze. On the contrary even in the harshest winter pieces of ice thrown into it melt quickly because of the warmth of the water. Beyond Loch Ness to the west the mainland continues for eight miles. It is indeed a very small space which prevents the seas from joining and making the rest of Scotland an island. For the land which lies between this throat and the Deucaledonian Sea is almost cut through by sea-lochs bursting into the land. What lies beyond Ness and this narrow throat, is customarily divided into four provinces, Naver or in the vernacular Strathnaver, named from the River Naver. Beyond the mouth of the Ness, where it is immersed in the German Sea, is Ross, running into the sea with quite high promontories, as the actual name indicates. For Ross to the Scots means promontory. It in total is longer than it is wide. For it stretches from the German Sea to the Deucaledonian, where it rises into mountains, harsh and uncultivated, where it expands into plains, inferior to no land in Scotland for the fertility of crops. It has lovely valleys watered by fish-filled rivers, and several fish-filled lochs, largest of all Loch Broom. From the Deucaledonian Sea the coast gradually checks itself and bends to the north east. On the other coast the German Sea, extending its path among the rocks of high cliffs, spreads out inland into a spacious gulf, a safe harbour and certain refuge against all storms. For the approach is not difficult for those entering, while within is a very safe anchorage against all damage from sky and sea, for fleets of whatever size. Next to the edge of Ross on the north is Naver, named from the River Naver, which in the vernacular, following the practice of the ancestral speech, they call Strathnaver. Ross encloses it on the south, on the west and north the Deucaledonian Sea washes it, on the east it touches Caithness. Sutherland is so placed between all of these that it is neighbouring to all and touches them from some direction. For on the west it faces Strathnaver, on the south and east Ross, on the north Caithness. The farmers from the nature of the region are more dedicated to pasture than to field. There is nothing that I know of that is peculiar to it, except that it has mountains of white marble, a rare marvel in cold regions, and put to almost no use, as the luxury that affects it has not yet arrived there. Caithness is the farthest north region of Scotland, on the side that Strathnaver meets it: and these two regions of Scotland draw their width in to a narrow front. On that front three promontories rise up. The highest is in Strathnaver, and to Ptolemy it is Orcas, or Tarvedum: the other two, by no means equally high, are in Caithness, Vervedrum, now Hoy, and Betubium, falsely called Dume by Hector Boece, now in the vernacular called Dunis Bay or as others say, Duncansbay. From this name with the removal of a few letters the name Dunis Bay seems to have been made. At the foot of the hill is quite a large gulf, which small ships sailing from the Orkneys use as a harbour. Now a gulf of the sea is in the vernacular Bay. Therefore as this gulf is called by the local people Duncan's or Donach's gulf, from these words however joined together the popular speech has formed Dunis Bay. In this area Ptolemy locates the Cornavii, of whose name some traces still survive. For in the vernacular they call the castle of the Earls of Caithness Gernigo. For those who are to Ptolemy and foreigners Cornavii, seem to have been to the Britons Kernici. For since not only in this area but also in the most distant part of the island, viz. in Cornwall, he places the same Cornavii, those who retain the old British tongue still call them Kernici. And perhaps one would not judge absurdly if one guessed that Cornwallians were so called instead of Kernicowallians, that is Kernici Galli. Traces of this name, although obscure, appear to have survived also in the middle of the island. For Bede writes that the beginning of the wall of Severus is not far distant from the convent of Kebercurnig, and of a monastery there no sign is left in those parts. However there remains not far off a half-ruinous castle of the Douglasses, Abercorn by name. I leave to the reader to judge whether one or other of these words was corrupted from Kernic.

We have reached the Islands, in whose description Buchanan is rather more full than is needed at this point; and as I can scarcely hope for fuller ones from Scotland, I have decided I shall do better to put them in their place beside the maps.

BY THE WORK OF SCOTS. (Section Note)

This treatise was sent to me six years ago from Germany by a man totally unknown to me; if you think fit, you can insert it at the end of the work, but I leave this to your judgement. John Scot of Scotstarvit in a letter to Joan Blaeu

The whole of Bavaria venerates for its Apostle and highest Patron St Rupert, son of the King of Scots, who came to Germany in the sixth century and at Regensburg baptised Theodo Duke of Bavaria with all his governors. After this, leaving Regensburg, he imbued with the Christian faith all the surrounding peoples; finally he built the city of Salzburg from the foundations and was chosen as first Bishop of that city by the unanimous vote of all. At last after many other distinguished deeds he left this mortal life for the eternal one. This and much more is realted at length in the records of Salzburg, which are printed in Volume 4 of Henry Canisius, Ancient Reading, and in many more recent works.

In about the same century Columban and Gall came to Germany from Scotland; having passed through many regions, they at last settled in the confines of Swabia, and labouring there in the Lord’s vineyard with preaching of the word and miracles, they led most of the inhabitants to the most holy faith of Christ. Now when Columban was setting out for Italy, Gall was seized by disease and sickness and compelled to remain in Switzerland; after he recovered his health he built a monastery there, which is still called by his name the Monastery of St Gall. Beside it may be seen today a free city of the same name, which in former centuries was subject to the Abbots of St Gall.

  [Continuation of text]

Copyright           Enquiries & Copies           Help