Blaeu Atlas of Scotland, 1654

Name: Blaeu, Joan, 1596-1673  
Title: Scotiae  
Pagination: 16-17
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Translation of text:

that, almost in despair of his situation, he was compelled to plead for the assistance of Jupiter: he, to assist his toiling son, sent down a storm of stones from heaven. An indication of that fight remained for future generations in a plain of stones. I should not deny that both island and brigand received their name from 'albus'. But I argue that 'albus' was a word common to very many peoples, and that among them it was a name not only for a colour, but also for height. Now Festus Pompeius asserts that what are named Alba by Latins are called Alpa by Sabines, and hence their name was given to the Alps, because they are white with perpetual snow. But I, though agreeing on the one point, that Albus and Alpus were said of the same thing by the ancients, relying on the authority not only of Festus but also of Strabo, think that the Alps were so named rather from their height than from their whiteness. First because Alba is the name of many cities in Italy, France and Spain, and all are situated on or near hills. Then because Strabo without distinction recognises these names Alba, Alpa, Alpia, Albiona, Albici in the signification of height as derived from the same root, and thus he shows that these words are used especially where Alps begin to rise up. Hence in Liguria Albingaunum and Albium Intimelium. Among the Iapydes there is a very high ridge, where the Alps end. There are also other places which may seem to be named from their height. In Italy the River Albula which flows from the moutains of Etruria, and the Albulae Waters from those of Tivoli. In the Narbonne area of France the Albici are a mountain people. In Germany the River Elbe, born in the mountains of Bohemia. In Asia the River Albanus flows from the Caucasus; and Alban people are as it were poured over these mountains. From this I think it is not repugnant to the truth that Albus was a word not of one, but of many races, and with all the places that I have named height is a perpetual and immutable fact, while whiteness occurs for scarcely a few months, not always to all. In agreement with this conjecture are also the actual names of the Ligurian Giants Albion and Bergion, both in my view given from bodily size. What the ancients felt about Albus, we have already stated, while the use among Germans of Berg for high is too well known to need further proof. And that it was formerly used by the Gauls with the same meaning is shown by a passage of Pliny, in Book 3, which I argue should be read thus: 'Whence Cato said the Bergomates originated, proclaiming themselves even by their name as situated more highly than happily.' Albion therefore and Bergion, were it seems men superior in bodily size to the others around who practised brigandage in that part of Liguria with confidence in their strength; and Hercules, travelling by that way, curbed them by force. But none of the ancients relate that they ruled in Britain, and the state of Gallic affairs at that time makes it quite improbable. Nor is it probable that the British situation was more peaceful: in which country that large Albion left a very large kingdom to be a brigand at home. But although we do not depart much from the opinion of those who have written that Albion was so called from Albus, we think that not its colour, but the height of its mountains was the occasion for giving the name. Now I think that those who gave this name were to some extent driven by a comparison of England with Ireland, between which there is a short sea-voyage. For when they saw the whole of the one coast rise in mountains while the other, flat and low, was spread in level plains, they called the former Albion from its height. But whether they gave the latter some name from its lowness is made uncertain by the length of time and the carelessness of the people in preserving the memory of ancient matters. Moreover it seems to speak for this opinion of mine, that that name of the island taken from albus, whether it is Albion or Albium, still in Scotland sticks as it were to its native soil, and could never be blotted out despite so many changes of inhabitants, kingdoms, languages, and vicissitudes of other matters. Although this seems to us to be true or very close to the truth, yet if anyone brings forward a better theory, we shall easily cross to his opinion. So far about the old names of the island. The next requirement seems to be for us to go through the situation of the countries. The native English writers have set down the individual regions quite distinctly and clearly. But Hector Boece in his description of Scotland has set out some points with too little truth and has led others into error, while he himself, too credulous of those to whom he gave the task of enquiry into them, rashly published their opinion: we shall touch lightly and perfunctorily on what has been determined by us, and we shall correct, as far as we can, what seems to have been set down either obscurely or less than truly. England is divided most conveniently for our purpose by four rivers, two running into the Irish Sea, the Dee and the Severn, and the same number into the German sea, the Thames and the Humber. Between the Dee and the Severn is included Wales, divided threefold into regions; between the Severn and the Thames is that whole side of England which faces France; the regions lying between the Thames and the Humber comprise the third part; the fourth, the lands which reach from the Humber and the Dee to Scotland.

Scotland is separated from the English first by the River Tweed and the very high Cheviot Mountain, and where the mountain fails by a wall built quite recently, then by the Rivers Esk and Solway. Within these boundaries the regions lie in this order from the Scottish Sea to the Irish. The Merse, in which the town of Berwick is now held by the English, touches the left bank of the Tweed; to the east it is closed by the Firth of Forth, to the south by England. To the west on each side of the Tweed is Teviotdale, taking its name from the River Teviot; it is separated by the Cheviot Mountain from England. After this are the small regions of Liddesdale, Ewesdale and Eskdale, named from the three rivers of related name, Liddel, Ewes and Esk. Finally Annandale, it too named from the River Annan which divides it almost in two, runs down following the Solway to the Irish Sea. Now to return to the Forth, it closes Lothian on the east; Cockburnswood and the Lammermuir Mountains separate it from the Merse. Next turning a little to the west, it meets Lauderdale and Tweeddale, the one from the town of Lauder, the other from the River Tweed which cuts through its midst. Tweeddale to the south and west touches Liddesdale, Nithsdale and Clydesdale. The River Nith gave its name to Nithsdale, flowing through it into the Irish Sea. Lothian is named from Loth, king of the Picts; on the north east it is bounded by the Forth or the Scottish Sea, and faces the Clyde valley on the south west. This region far exceeds the others in the cultivation of humanity and in the supply of the necessities of life. It is watered by five rivers, the Tyne, both Esks (which join in one channel before they fall into the sea), the Leith and the Almond. These flow down into the Forth partly from the Lammermuir Mountains, partly from the Pentlands. For towns it has Dunbar, Hadina, in the vernacular Haddington, Dalkeith, Edinburgh, Leith and Linlithgow. More to the west lies Clydesdale, including both banks of the River Clyde, which because of its length is divided into two prefectures; in the upper prefecture is a hill, not particularly high, from which rivers flow into three different seas, the Tweed into the Scottish Sea, the Annan into the Irish, and the Clyde into the Deucaledonian. In it the more distinguished cities are Lanark and Glasgow. This on the south west is touched by Kyle. Beyond Kyle is Galloway. It is separated from Nithsdale by the River Cludan[?]; it almost all faces south, and by its coast the rest of that side of Scotland is enclosed. In general it is more productive of pasture than of crops. Rivers running into the Irish Sea are the Urr, Dee, Ken, Cree and Luce. Hardly anywhere does it rise into mountains, but swells with frequent hills. In the valleys between them lying water makes innumerable lochs, from which in the first rains before the autumn equinox the streams are increased; hence an incredible number of eels comes down, which the people catch in wicker-baskets and preserve in salt; they make no small profit from this. The end of this side is the promontory Nonantum; under it at the mouth of the River Luce is a bay which in Ptolemy is called Rerigonius. Opposite to that flows from the Firth of Clyde a bay, in the vernacular Loch Ryan, in Ptolemy Vidogara: the land running between these bays is called by the inhabitants the Rhinns, that is the point of Galloway. By them Nonantum is named the Mull, that is beak or gaping mouth. The whole region is called Galloway (for Callovid in the language of the old Scots means Gaul). Below Vidogara Carrick declines gently from the back of Galloway to the Firth of Clyde. Two rivers intersect it, the Stinchar and Girvan: both are girded by many lovely houses. Between the rivers, where it swells into moderate hills, it is fertile in pastures and not unblessed in crops. The whole is not only self-sufficient in goods from land and sea, but also supplies much to its neighbours. The River Doon separates it from Kyle, rising from a lake of the same name, which includes an island holding a modest castle. Kyle follows, which Galloway shuts in on the south; on the north east it touches Clydesdale; on the west it is separated from Cunninghame by the River Irvine; the River Ayr divides it in the middle. On it is situated Ayr, a well-known market. In general the region is more productive of brave men than of crops or animals; for all of it has a thin and sandy soil: this sharpens men’s industry and parsimony increases strength of mind and body. Cunninghame after this runs to the north, and wards off the Clyde and almost forces it to the form of a proper river. The region’s name is Danish, meaning in their language king’s dwelling; this is proof that Danes once held it. Next on its eastern edge is situated Renfrew, named from the small town in which its council is wont to meet; it is commonly called the Barony. Two rivers cut it in half, both of which are called Cart. After the Barony is Clydesdale, stretching on both banks of the Clyde, and because of its size divided into several jurisdictions. It displays the better known rivers: on the left the Avon and Douglas, which run into the Clyde; and on the right, a second Avon, which separates Lothian from the land of Stirling. These two rivers have taken instead of a proper name a common appellation of rivers, like the one in Wales with dialectal variation, which they call Avon. The land of Stirling is separated on the south from Lothian by the Avon, on the east the Firth of Forth, gradually becoming smaller and reduced to the proper size of a river, suffers a bridge near Stirling. One river worth mention cuts through the region, the Carron, near which there are some old monuments. On the left of the Carron are two earthen mounds, built (as they themselves make clear) by men’s work; in the vernacular they are called Duns of peace. And below on the same river, about two miles away, is a round building with no mortar, but with rough rocks so set that part of the upper stone is inserted into the lower, so that the whole work is knitted together

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