Page images

with a lozenge-shaped centre-piece consisting of a central boss flanked by two side-pieces of triangular curvature. The length, including the buckles at the end, is 214 inches, and the breadth from point to point of the lozenge-shaped part is 14} inches. The terminal plaques are oblong, those at the posterior end being 13 inches in length by 1} inches in breadth, and those at the anterior end 2 inches in length by 1 inches in breadth. The other ten plaques on the longitudinal straps are 13 inches square and placed half an inch apart. Twelve similar square plaques are similarly placed on the straps which make the lozenge-shaped part, and the two terminals on the outer side angles of the lozenge are heart-shaped. The central boss is 33 inches in diameter, surrounded by a flat border half an inch in width. The flanking plaques of triangular curvature measure 33 inches along each side. The oblong and square plaques are chased with a floral device in an oblong or square panel in the centre of each, surrounded by a border crossed at intervals by groups of parallel lines. The heart-shaped plaques have each a bear seated upright, and looking out of the floral scroll with his fore-paws clasped round two of its branches. The plates of triangular curvature which flank the boss have an elaborate floral scroll filling the space within a border of the same character as that of the other plaques, but studded with small boss-like nail-heads at intervals of į of an inch. There are similar nail-heads in the angles of the margins of the oblong and square plaques, and round the margin of the heart-shaped plaques. The central boss has four such studs round the margin and one on the top, and the whole of its convexity is chased with an elaborate pattern of interlaced work, with incipient leafage at intervals. Round the flat margin of the boss is an Icelandic inscription incised in the old black-letter character, which Mr Eiríkr Magnússon of the Cambridge University Library, in a letter to Dr Anderson, discusses and explains as follows :

"The inscription of which you send me a rubbing and a correct transliteration proves the boss on which it is engraved to have been an ornamental affixture to a crupper attached to a saddle given to a bride on the occasion of her bridal ride, or procession on horseback, with her party to the church, or

to the place where the wedding feast was to be given. This the translation of the quatrain will bear out inferentially.

"The quatrain is in Icelandic. In form it is an absolutely perfect piece of poetry, and yet of an elaborate technique. The language is remarkably pure, and, in want of any data, may belong to any time from, say, 1600 to 1800 ; but must belong to the time when ladies' saddles and harness decorated with ornamental plaque-work in brass were most in vogue-the 18th century.

"I will now give you a copy of the quatrain such as will exhibit at a glance
the technique of its poetical form :-
Reidin Gagni

Brwdi Best
By rin

Leidin Fagni

Mooti Mest
Medur bagda

“The vertical arrangement shows the assonantic syllables, the letters in italic
type show the alliteration. Reduced to ordinary 18th century spelling, the
verse reads:

Reidinn gagni brúdi best,

Byrinn frægda dafni,
Leidinn fagni móti mest,

Medur þægda safni.
Before interpreting the verse, I must call attention to the assonantic first
words of lines 1 and 3 : reiðinn, leiðinn-I use the normal spelling of to-day.
At the end of a word the unstressed syllable inn has the same sound volume
as the (unstressed) syllable in ; therefore :

Ist, Reidiñ may stand for reidinn or reiðin.
2nd, Leidin

leiðinn or leidin.
Both words stand in nom, case with definite article hinn or inn

Engl. the suffixed. Therefore : Reið-inn reiði’nn (reiði hinn, reiði inn) may be nom. of reiði, m. (=a crupper), meaning the crupper ; or it may be nom. of reið, f., a and ride suit the sense of the first line equally well ; so I take it the author meant reiðin(n) to have the double meaning I have pointed out.

Leidiñ can stand for leiðinn, m., the tediun, the weariness (unfulfilled desire of a love-lorn heart); or it may stand for leidin, t., which I think has here the chase of leet, assembly, wedding party. Accordingly the translation of the

quatrain will be:


Let the


suit the bride in the best manner,


Let the

Let the fair wind of renown(ed deeds) increase (for the couple to be married),

{ wedding party } rejoice at its most in the meeting (of bride and With a collection of comforts (wedding presents).


[ocr errors]

gagni=pres. subj. of gagna, be of gain, suit; brúði, dat. s. of brúðr, bride ; Byrr, bearing,' fair wind; best, superl. of góðr, best; frægða, gen. pl. of frægð, fame, renown, deed worthy of fame; dafni, subj. of dafna, to thrive, increase; fagni, subj. of fagna (“fawn upon), rejoice ; mest, most ; medur, prep. with dat. with ; þægða, gen. pl. of þægð, f., an obliging act, gratifying deed, comfort conferred upon a person, winning gift ; safni, dat. sing. of safn, n., collection.

“In his Reise igiennem Island, 1772, pt. i. p. 44, Eggert Olafsson gives a description of the 18th century lady's saddle in Iceland as follows:

'In other places of the country the ladies ride by themselves in a lady's saddle, somewhat resembling those in use in Denmark. Yet the Icelandic saddles are much more decorated. They are lined by blue or green cloth, covered by brass work, and here and there ornamented by large bosses of the same metal, engraved by foliate designs, animals and birds. The bridle, crupper, and breast-straps are also thickly set with bosses of brass.'

“This antiquarian curiosity is very valuable, now that all traces of brassbound ladies' saddles seem to have vanished in Iceland.”

[ocr errors]

As the crupper has been thus shown to be undoubtedly a product of Icelandic handicraft, probably of the 18th century, it would have been interesting to have known how and when it came to Kirkwall; but unfortunately, although it is known to have been there for at least fifty or sixty years, no traces of its previous history appear to be obtainable.

The following Communications were read :




The old house of Rossie stood on the south side of the South Esk, a few miles west of the town of Montrose, and a short distance from the site of the present mansion-house. The Castle of Craig, mention of which occurs several times in the inventories, was demolished many years ago. It stood in the present garden of Rossie, where a fragment of its ruin still exists, or till recently existed. In Ochterlony's account of the shire of Forfar, 1684–5, Craig and Rossie are described as “two excellent houses, rebuilt, with excellent good yards, orchards, and planting. Craig hath an excellent fountaine, with a large basone of hewen stone, whereunto water is conveyed by pypes of lead from a spring at a good distance.” A third house to which that author refers as belonging to the family was doubtless Ulis-haven, or, as it is called in these inventories, " Ulisses Haven."

Patrick Scott succeeded to Rossie and Craig on the death of his father in 1690, and three years thereafter married Margaret, daughter of Sir Archibald Hope of Rankeillor, one of the Lords of Session, and is said to have died in 1731, leaving several children.

In the year 1739 Margaret Scott, his widow, made an inventory of all the furniture and plenishing in Rossie, also of the linen from the Craig,

one-third of the plenishing of Ulisses Haven, and of such other furnishings, etc, as were her own property.

The inventories seem to have been made for one of her family, probably for her son on the occasion of his marriage, and her vacating the house of Rossie for his young bride.

As in great part the furnishings of all mansion-houses from one period to another must remain of the same character—a bedroom must

1 Warden's Forfarshire.



have its bed, and a dining-room its table and chairs-it were a needless task to set down here lists of such articles as are still in common use, or which in their description show no peculiarities. I shall therefore merely abstract from the inventories, which extend to thirty-two pages, such material as may be of special interest.

The first list is that of the “Linens from the Craig, after my husband's death."

This includes, besides the usual linen, feather-beds, cods (pillows), cod wares (pillow-cases), a scarlet bed with silk fringes, a blue bed, and a purple bed ---four-posters, with their canopies and curtains of bright coloured material ; and we may here note that the beds in Rossie are likewise described by their colours, green, red, and yellow—that in the lady's own room being “a copper-coloured Alasand-bed.” 1

Next follows Account of the Tea Equipage.”

There is a black tea press, in which no doubt the “equipage” was kept. The china is red and white, and the morning cups and “ trinchers ” (i.e. plates) “uniform to the cupps are blue and white. There are also afternoon cups, which shows that tea was in frequent use. A silver “tract pot” and a china “draw pott” we should now simply call tea-pots. There are coffee mills, for the coffee was roasted and ground at home; and a silver “transvarer” is presumably a punch-ladle for transferring punch from the bowl to the glass.

The list of glasses contains “10 water glasses with 8 saucers for them,” and also, besides glass decanters, four of “lime," i.e. earthenware ; 4 capps, which are small wooden bowls for containing food; “2 wand baskets lined with white iron,” and “6 bottle frames,” which were probably wine slides. Of wine-glasses there is no mention, but in a press in the big hall and in the closet off' my lady's chamber were to be found two “caves,” with glasses in them. At this period nests of glasses, i.e. a number of small tumblers fitting closely into each other,

1 Alexander, or Bourde de Alisaundre, a stuff which took its name from Alexandria in Egypt, where, though not exclusively, it was manufactured. It is supposed to have been a striped silk.—(The Drapers' Dictionary.)

« PreviousContinue »