Blaeu Atlas of Scotland, 1654

Name: Blaeu, Joan, 1596-1673  
Title: Argathelia. Perthia  
Pagination: 86-87
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Translation of text:

ARGYLL (Section Note)

Beyond Loch Lomond and the western part of Lennox extends, as far as the Firth of Clyde, Argathelia which in Latin is also Argadia, in the vernacular Argyll, more correctly Argathel and Ar-Gwythil, that is Next to the Irish, or, as old papers have it, Edge of Ireland. For it lies opposite Ireland, whose inhabitants the Britons call ‘Gwithil’ and ‘Gaothel’. The region runs long and wide, pierced by fish-stocked lakes, and in other parts very suited by its mountains for pasturing herds (1); on them wild cattle and deer wander; but on the coast it is rough with rocks and a wasteland of black mountains. In this part, on the authority of Bede, ‘Britain took, after the Britons and the Picts, a third nation, the Scots, in the area of the Picts. Coming from Ireland under the command of Reuda, they claimed either by friendship or by the sword the homes among them that they still have. From that commander clearly they are called to the present day Dalreudini; for in their language Dal means part.’ And a little later: ‘Ireland was the proper home of the Scots, from it they came and added a third race in Britain to the Britons and the Picts. Now there is a very large gulf of the sea which in ancient times separated the race of Britons from the Picts. It breaks into the land from the west over a large area, where there is to the present day a fortified city of the Britons, which is called Alcluith. So it was to the northern part of this gulf that the Scots (whom we have mentioned) came and made it their homeland.’ Of that name Dalreudin no traces at all survive, as far as I know, not even in writers, unless it is the same as Dalriada. For in an old book on the division of Alba, we read these words about Kenneth, who it is agreed was King of the Scots and defeated the Picts: ‘Two years before Kenneth came to Pictavia (thus he calls the region of the Picts) he took over the kingdom of Dalriada.’ There is also mention of Dalrea somewhere in this area in a more recent history, where King Robert Bruce fought without success. (2)

King James IV by authority of the Estates of the kingdom decreed that the law should be administered for this province at Perth, by itinerant Justiciars, when the King so decides. But the Earls have in certain matters their own regal rights, men of the widest authority and numerous followers, who trace their family from the ancient princelings of Argyll through countless ancestors, and have taken their surname from their castle Campbell; they say that the honour and title of Earl was received from King James II, who (as it has been handed down) invested Colin Lord Campbell as Earl of Argyll because of the courage and dignity of his family. His descendents by the propitious favour of the Kings have now for some time been Justiciars General of the Kingdom of Scotland (or as they say, Justiciars constituted in general) and Royal Prefects of the Court.

[Archibald about 1630 renounced the right of Justiciar General, for which reason the King granted him jurisdiction of the Islands of Argyll, the Hebrides, etc. During the last visit of the King about 1640 he was created Marquess of Argyll. The Marquesses of Argyll have this special custom, from ancient and distant times, that when they betroth their daughters, their friends and followers are required to pay the dowry, and for this purpose are summoned and assessed according to the number of their horses and cattle. It may be read in Craig’s work on feus that the Lord of Argyll granted certain lands to his follower Constantine Walkenshaw, on condition that he was prepared when called on to explode larger machines in time of war.]


From the midst of the mountains of Alba the River Tay, the largest in the whole of Scotland, flows out and first rushes through the land until it spreads into a loch with quite a number of islands and restrains its course. Thence narrowed between its banks, it irrigates the ample and fruitfully rich region of Perth, and takes in the River Almond which flows from Atholl.

This Atholl (to turn aside from our path for a little), infamous for witches, is a fairly fertile region with wooded valleys; here the Caledonian Forest, fearful from the horror of shadows in varied twistings and from the dens of bears and also of huge crested bulls, which I mentioned previously, once extended far and wide through the regions round about. It has small glory for its places, but is known for the story of its Earls. Thomas younger son of Roland of Galloway was by right of his wife Earl of Atholl; his son Patrick was slain in his bedchamber by his rivals the Bisets at Haddington, and the house in which he lived was soon burned, so that he might seem to have perished in an accidental fire. David of Hastings succeeded in the earldom [Chron. Melros.]; he had married Patrick’s maternal aunt, whose son David seems to have been the one called of Strathbogie, who a little later, in the reign of Henry III in England, as Earl of Atholl married the second daughter and heir of Richard, bastard son of John King of England, with by far the most splendid inheritance in England; she bore him two sons, John Earl of Atholl, who when loyalty disappeared perished in a high hanging, viz. on a fifty-foot high gibbet, and David Earl of Atholl, to whom from his marriage with the second daughter and heir of John Comyn of Badenoch, from one of the heirs of Aymer de Valence Earl of Pembroke, great possessions accrued. His son David, who was repeatedly summoned among the Earls of England to the Parliamentary Assemblies of England under Edward II and was made Lieutenant of Scotland under King Edward Balliol, fell in battle in the wood of Kilblean 1335, defeated by the courage of Andrew de Moray. His son David prduced only two daughters, Elizabeth married to Thomas Percy, from whom the Barons of Borrough are descended, and Philippa married to Thomas Halsham (1), an English knight. Then the title of Atholl went to that Walter Stewart son of King Robert II, who did away with James I King of Scotland in a cruel death, and paid the well-deserved penalty of his wicked cruelty, so that Aeneas Sylvius, at that time legate of Pope Eugenius IV in Scotland, is related to have said, ‘that he doubted whether he ought to grace with greater praise those who had avenged the King’s death, or to transfix with sharper sentence those who had defiled themselves with such an unworthy parricide.’ After a few years this honour was granted to John Stewart, of the family of Lorne, son of James, who was nicknamed the Black Knight, by Joan widow of King James I, daughter of John Earl of Somerset and niece of John of Gaunt Duke of Lancaster. [This Earldom of Atholl has now come into the hands of the son of the late John Earl of Tullibardine, whose mother was a Stewart and one of three daughters of the Lord of Innermeath, from whom he bought the right and paid the burdens of the Earldom due by the heirs; his life ended not long ago, and his son has been served as his heir.]

Having taken in the Almond, the now fuller Tay makes for Dunkeld, adorned with an Episcopal seat by King David. Many from the form of the name suspect that this was a town of the Caledonians and interpret it as mound of hazels, wishing the name to be given from the hazels of the Caledonian Forest. The Tay continues hence through the corpse of the devastated small city of Bertha, not forgetful of the great disaster which it once inflicted on it, when in spate it flattened the fields, the joyous crops and the oxen’s labours, and precipitately dragged away this small city with the royal infant and its inhabitants. In its place on a more suitable site King William built Perth, which was immediately so wealthy that Necham who lived at that time wrote of it:

You cross, ample Tay, through fields, through towns, through Perth,
The kingdom is sustained by the wealth of that city.

Posterity however called it St John’s Town from the church dedicated to St John, and the English, during the war that raged between Bruces and Balliols, armed it with great works, which the Scots later pulled down to a great extent. However it is an elegant small city, on a beautiful site between two grassy fields, and, although some churches have been demolished, glittering. It is so laid out that each craft lives apart in its own area, and the Tay brings up in ships on the incoming tide the benefits of the sea. Hence J. Johnston, often already quoted:

Because of the liquid waters of the Tay and its lovely grass
It obtains proud kingdoms in the midst of the country.
Once the brightest seat of noble Kings,
Beautiful in site and rich by the fruit of the fat field,
It give justice to neighbouring places, and to give custom and practice
Is praise for it, and for them to have deserved to be given these.
Alone among its country’s cities it is girded with walls,
Lest it become wandering prey to unremitting foes.
How great its men’s courage, what the prizes of their right hand, is known
To the Cimbrian, the fierce Saxon, and the race of Hector’s sons.
Happy in new praise, happy too in past praise,
Pursue the modern distinction, perpetuate the old.

[And thus Arthur Johnston (Section Note):
Berta formerly, Perth now you are called, ancient city,
And at the same time you have a name from the patron saint.
Your cleanness commends you, and the healthy air,
And the river which waters the fertile fields.
The fragments of the fallen bridge attest your wealth,
And the stones cut by no common hand.
The water with rain collected at Jove’s command
Rushes beneath it, not knowing to bear the imposed yoke.
Here too, praised in song by Grampian-born bards,
Is your island girded by the river’s waves:
An island small indeed, but once made famous
By bloody battle between Highland chiefs.
Here the noble youth exercise their swift horses
And leave behind their backs the wing-footed south winds;
This deserves to be called the race-course of Mars or the arena
Made famous by the light wheels of the Greeks.
There are woods close to you, here you can shoot deer,
And spread nets for tender goats.
Not far away is the Carse, here you pick both scented fruit
And pears to be compared to those of Tuscany.
While you mix the useful with the sweet, you have taken away every sting,
And the highest pinnacle of honour will be due to you.]

Now recently King James VI raised Perth to an Earldom, when he created James Baron Drummond Earl of Perth. [James died without issue, and so it came by hereditary right to his brother John; his eldest son married the daughter of the Earl of Huntly.]

The area surrounding this is Methven, which Margaret the English widow of James IV acquired by paying out money for her third husband, Henry Stewart of the royal line, and their heirs, and at the same time won the dignity of Baron from her son James V. [Now the Lordship of Methven belongs to the Duke of Lennox.] Lower down is Ruthven Castle of the Ruthvens, a name to be abominated and eradicated from all memory, since it has been ordered by decree of the highest estate, that whoever is of that name should renounce it and take a new one; after the Ruthven brothers in an execrable and wicked conspiracy had plotted for the murder of James VI, by far the best Prince; he declared their father William Earl of Gowrie, and later when he had too insolently dictated laws to the king himself, punished him, convicted of treason by the law of the kingdom, with his head. But about men of condemned memory this might seem far too much, though for a warning to posterity it is worth recalling guilty families. [And so this castle through the forfeiture of the Ruthvens reverted to the king, who granted it in a new infeftment to William Murray of his chamber.]

Gowrie, known for its fields of crops and outstanding

  [Continuation of text]

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