Blaeu Atlas of Scotland, 1654

Name: Blaeu, Joan, 1596-1673  
Title: Nova Descriptio Praefectvrae Sterlinensis  
Pagination: 70-71
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Translation of text:

very definite traces may be seen to this day.’ This wall began, as the Scots say today, at the riven Avon which enters the Edinburgh Firth, and crossing the River Carron makes its way to Dumbarton. But Bede, as just cited, says it begins in a place Pen-vael, that is in the language of the Picts, Head of the wall, of the Britons Pen-gual, of the Angles Penwalton, of the Scots Cevall, which are all without doubt derived from the Latin Vallum, and that that place is about two miles distant from Abercurnig or Abercurning. And it ends in the common opinion at Kirkpatrick, the birthplace of St Patrick the Apostle of the Irish, near the Clyde, according to Bede at Alcluid, according to Ninius at a town Pen Alcloyt, which seem to be the same. Now this wall in the vernacular is called Graham’s Dyke, either from a warlike Scot Graham, whose strength was especially conspicuous in breaking through it, or from the Grampian mountain at whose foot it is seen. The author of the Wheel of Time calls it the wall of Abercorneth, that is the mouth of the River Corneth, where in the age of Bede, ‘a famous monastery in the region’, as he himself narrates, ‘belonging to the Angles, but in the vicinity of the firth which then separated the lands of the Angles and the Picts.’ Very close to this turf wall or Vallum, where the River Carron cuts through this land of Stirling, on the left two mounds are seen piled up, which they call Dunipace, and about two miles below there is an ancient round structure, 24 feet high, 13 wide, open at the top, so built from rough stones without lime, part of the upper stone being inserted into the lower one, that the whole work rising into the heavens holds itself together by mutual embrace; some call this the temple of the God Boundary, others (who ascribe anything magnificent to Arthur) Arthurs-Oven, others Julius hoff - they think it was constructed by Julius Caesar, but I should rather think by Julius Agricola, who fortified this part; if Ninius had not already informed us that it was constructed by Carausius as a triumphal arch. For he (writes Ninius) ‘at the bank of the Carron constructed a round house of polished stones, erecting a triumphal arch in memory of his victory, and rebuilt the wall and fortified it with seven fortlets.’ Half way between Dunipace and this structure, on the right bank of the Carron, the confused appearance of an ancient small city may be seen, where the common people believe there was once a landing place for ships; they call it Camelot, a name famous in the tale of Arthur, and vainly assert that it was mentioned as Camalodunum by Tacitus (7). It would rather seem to be Coria Damniorum, which Ptolemy mentions, from the name of the River Carron which flows below it. Now hear what that excellent poet G. Buchanan said about this boundary of the Roman empire at the Carron:
Rome set out walls before the axe-bearing Scots;
Hope of advance having been put down here, at the water of Carron
The boundary marks the point of separation from the Italian kingdom.

In this land of Stirling, in the eastern part, may be seen the castle of Callendar of the Barons of Livingston. [James Livingston, Earl of Callendar, the younger son, bought the Barony of Callendar from his elder brother, Earl of Linlithgow, who had been raised to the earldom by King Charles. He had long served and fought in the Low Countries for the United Provinces, advanced from common soldier through all ranks to general, and finally some years ago retired to his own country, and there now is lieutenant-general of the Scottish army under Leslie.]

The family of the Barons Fleming live nearby at Cumbernauld, which they say was received from King Robert Bruce, for brave and loyal service in defending the country, whence too they gained the hereditary honour of Chamberlain of Scotland. Very recently also the kindness of King James VI brought the title of Earl to this family, when he created J. Baron Fleming Earl of Wigton. In the neighbourhood is Elphinston, which also has its Barons [the first of whom was Alexander Elphinston, to whom, because he married Barlaea, maid of Queen Margaret the daughter of Henry VII, King James IV granted with the title of Baron the Barony of Kildrummy in feu] raised to that dignity by King James IV. Where the Forth rolls twisting in its meanders and suffers a bridge, sits Stirling, in the vernacular Strivelin and Sterlin Burgh. There, on top of a precipitous rock, stands out the strong royal castle; King James VI adorned it with new buildings; and over it have long presided as Captains the Lords of Erskine, to whom the care and ward of the Princes of Scotland while they were minors was often entrusted. J. Johnston’s verses (Section Note) will supply other material on Stirling:
The palace on high looks down suspended from the lofty castle,
The walls are built below twofold ridges.
August parent of kings, nurse to the sons of kings,
Hence it completely prides itself in the name of kingmaker.
But host to anyone, under any name, whether you are
Friend, or not, guest or enemy alike.
Loss yields before gain. Woeful strife -
Alas, how often it has stained the ground with leaders’ blood.
In this alone unhappy, but happy in all else: nowhere
More joyful either face of heaven or genius of soil.
[Arthur Johnston too writes in this way on the land of Stirling:
Who could sing worthily of Stirling? Kings their dwellings
Have set here on safe ridges.
The breeze is healthy, the closeness of the sky ensures this,
Nor is a place given that is safer from cruel foe.
You see here a castle build on twin rocks,
And walls equal to the towers of Tarpeian Jove.
The Forth catches triumphal arches here while it flees,
And is compelled to bend its neck to the curved yoke.
No differently does Maeander sport in Phrygian shores,
The water always flows, always returns trembling.
Having wandered the world, turning his steps hither,
The swift stranger admires the riches of country and city.
Certainly they are to be admired, and worthy of song;
Yet martial virtue has more praise here.
More than once Stirling drove back the Italian swords,
And the boundary of the Empire was the river it drinks.] (8)

About two miles from here the Bannock Burn makes for the Forth, with high banks on each side and swift in winter, best known for the victory of the Scots, more famous than any other, when Edward II of England was put to flight and fearfully looked to a small boat for his safety, and the best equipped army hitherto sent out by England was scattered by the virtue of King Robert Bruce, so that one or two years later the English no longer maintained detachments against the Scots. But the neighbouring country is notorious for the murder of James III; when the father took up arms against the son some nobles of Scotland murdered him here, I do not know whether by his fault or theirs, but certainly a very bad example. Near Stirling Ptolemy seems to place Alauna, which refers either to the Allan Water which here slips into the Forth, or to Alva, the house of the Erskines, who are hereditary sheriffs of this land outside the burgh. [The title of Earl of Stirling was gained from Charles by Lord (9) William Alexander, Royal Secretary, and Master of Requests; he obtained also Nova Scotia in feu; he also gained from the king the liberty to create 100 Baronets.] (10)

OF STIRLING (Section Note)

The Prefecture of Stirling is not today confined within such narrow boundaries as once was the land of Stirling, for under that name writers understand only the territory neighbouring on all sides the city of Stirling; but now, in recent centuries, it is extended to the east, south and west, and has these boundaries: on the east the River Avon, which running from the mountains from south to north discharges into the Forth or Boderia and divides this prefecture from the land of Linlithgow; on the south it has the valley of the Clyde and the River Blane, which enters the Endrick, while this discharges into Loch Lomond; on the west it has Loch Lomond itself; the Rivers Blane and Endrick and Loch Lomond divide this province from Lennox. The River Forth or Boderia is the edge of our province on the north; this noble river begins not far from the foot of Ben Lomond, runs from west to east, and has its name from the deepness of Boderia: for Bod means deep, this from the Greek batos, and Rei or Ria, flow from reo. This prefecture once formed part of the territory of the Damnii. The region’s name is taken from the metropolis, viz. Stirling, which is so named from its situation: for it is set on the slope of a steep rock, at whose foot deep water flows, namely the Boderia or Forth. Ster to the old Saxons is mountain, rock; and Lin is deep water still today to the Walverni [?]. This city was once called Binobara, corruptly in Ptolemy Vindovara: Bin, as is well-known, is mountain, and vara, river; thus the current name of the city is a translation of the old appellation. At the top of this city is a fortified castle, adorned a century ago by the elegant buildings of James V. The city is set in a place no less suited for the convenience of men than for its pleasing appearance. For the neighbouring land is productive of crops, and cannot be bettered among us for beauty, especially if from the castle or the higher part of the city you look to the east at the meanders of the Forth. On the right part of the city was located a noble abbey, in the vernacular called Dambuskenneth (11) , corruptly for Campskynnell; the compound word means bend of a stream or river; thus in Latin it is well rendered ‘Campe canalis’, for campe is bend, and Kinnell or Canalis is river. To this city the people of the province come to hear justice. This city is considered to be the key of the whole kingdom, for through it is opened the road from the south to the north, and on the other hand nowhere else would you find such an easy crossing, because only here is the Forth crossed by a bridge. That river cuts the southern area from the northern, and is separated from Loch Lomond by only a short isthmus, which prevents the whole northern area from being an island. In this city that coin was first struck, which from the place is called Sterling, at the time when the North Saxons occupied the whole territory. Between the Tyne and the Forth on the east, and the Tyne and the Clyde on the west, this coin, struck at Stirling, served the Saxons, Scots and Picts, whose jurisdictions ended in this place as if in a centre. Apart from the Avon, these are the main in this region: the Carron, running from the southern mountains of the region to the north joins the Forth; next is the river well known because of the notable battle between the Scots and the English, in which so many thousands of the English fell; for on its bank the battle was fought. The river’s name in the vernacular is Bannockburn, that is, a torrent running from hills; since Bannock is a small mountain, for it is a deminutive of Bin, Ben or Ban, which is mountain, and burn is a translation of torrent. This river flows into the Forth, coming down from the southern mountains. There is also another river flowing down from the same mountains,

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