Page images
PDF
EPUB

with any accuracy of research. This, strip the excellence which was then I apprehend, however, is what we are displayed by the scholars of this proevery way entitled to expect, from vincial capital. Most of the indivi. the victory which has been gained by viduals, however, to whom I have the disciples of Werner. Å host of now alluded, were scholars by profesactive observers is now, in fact, rapid- sion; they were devoted either to gely forming in this country, under the neral literature, or to the cultivation guidance of the very accomplished of some particular science, and were leader who has mainly contributed to universally occupied in the composi, the success of the cause; and I have tion of works, for which they looked little doubt, that, in consequence of forward to the applause and venerahis exertions, we shall soon obtain a tion of posterity. It cannot be said, very minute acquaintance with all the that, at the present moment, the schominerological appearances which this lars of this metropolis are either fewinteresting country so profusely exhi- er in number, or inferior in ability, to bits.

the illustrious men who immediately I am aware, however, that a great preceded them. But there is, I imadeal is still to be done in order to give gine, a very obvious difference bethe science of natural history that ex- tween the aspects assumed by these tension in this country which the different groupes, a difference which captivating nature of the study itself, appears, indeed, almost necessarily to and the admirable opportunities for result from the more general diffusion its successful prosecution which are of literary accomplishment. Our men afforded by the picturesque features of of talent seem less desirous, at present, our landscape, entitle it to obtain. of being regarded as great authors ;Our collections of all sorts are still in few of them are known to be engaged a very defective and miserable condi- in works which necessarily require tion, and, without these, you will much leisure for their completion ;readily perceive that little efficient in- and the prevailing fashion seems radustry can be expected in this depart- ther to consist in uniting literary acment. It is something, however, to complishments with professional actihave had the attention of the country vity, than in maintaining the single very generally awakened to this pur- character of men of letters. The efsuit ; and I have little doubt, that, fect is the same which takes place in entering on this study with our cha- society itself as it gradually advances racteristic ardour, we shall soon be from imperfection to refinement. able to take a distinguished part in That knowledge which is at first the that scientific examination of the ap- distinction of a few, soon becomes the pearances of Nature which has lately general inheritance of the community; been pursued with such unexampled and accomplishinents which were orisuccess by alınost every other country ginally valued for themselves, are at in Europe.

last regarded as but necessary instru5th, Considering, generally, the li- ments for the performance of the oro terary character of the inhabitants of dinary business of life. Such, I apthis city, it appears to me, that there prehend, has been the progress of acis one very obvious feature of differ- complishinent, in so far as the literaence between the present generation ture of this metropolis is concerned. and their immediate predecessors. It The attainments which gave distincis universally admitted, that, towards tion to the characters of our fathers the latter part of the preceding cen- have been transmitted, in some intury, this city was the residence of stances even with increased lustre, to one of the most illustrious assem- the inore numerous generation who blages of accomplished men that ever, have succeeded to their honours; and perhaps, were known to appear to- though the character of this city, as a gether. The works of these eminent seat of learning, was never higher individuals continue to hold the very than at the present moment, our most first rank in the literature of this eminent men either unite their accountry; and England, with all her complishments with an active disextent of population, and with all the charge of laborious duties, or aim ralearning by which her scholars are ther at improving the taste of their enriched, has never been able to oute contemporaries, by the dissemination

ANCIENT CIRCLES OF STONES DIS

COVERED UNDER GROUND IN THE

of their views in occasional publica- offer some observations on the defects tions, than at the composition of great of the scientific establishments of this and continuous works.

city; and, in the meantime, I am, &c. There is one other feature of the

P. literature of this city to which, before concluding, I wish to direct the attention of your readers. I mean the tendency which it has lately manifested to illustrate the peculiarities of our

PARISH OF CREICII, FIFESTIRE. national manners. Scotland, in fact, MR EDITOR, has many advantages for the produc- As the antiquities of a country must tion of an appropriate and national be highly valuable to every one who literature. The romantic features of would possess an intimate acquaintthe country itself ;-the interesting ance with the ancient manners and traditiens which the prejudices of the customs of its inhabitants, the followpeople have almost universally asso- ing statement of facts may be inteciated with the peculiarities of our resting to many of your readers :landscape ;--the remarkable system of In the spring of the year 1816, manners and opinions which formerly while some workmen were employed characterized the inhabitants of this in trenching a piece of ground a little country ;-and those splendid exhi- to the south-west of my manse, they bitions of national prowess, which the came to a number of stones, about record of our history so frequently eight or ten inches below the surface, presents have all combined to fix up- placed in a regular form. The part on this country a character adapted of the country in which these reguin a very peculiar manner to become larly arranged stones were situated is the subject of very interesting and very uneven. Three ridges of hills, powerful description. The peculiari- extending in different directions, terties of our manners, however, were minate on the west in Norman's Law, rapidly fading in the general amalgı- the most elevated ground in the north mation of our opinions and habits of Fife. On the south side of the with those of the nations which im- most northern of these ridges, and mediately surround us; and it must about midway between the top of one ever be regarded as a inost fortunate of the hiils and a small rivulet which event, that these peculiarities have at Hows along the strath, there is a lalength arrested the attention of an teral shelt, upon which these stones author who is pre-eminently qualified were discovered. This northern ridge to depict them with effect-- whose in- extends in a direction from east to fluence upon the literary taste of the west. age has already been established in From the workmen frequently ineetthe most unequivocal manner-and ing with stones of all sizes in the who has been able, by the powerful course of trenching, unfortunately the character of his genius, to render in- regular arrangement of those above teresting, even to those who are un- mentioned was not attended to, until acquainted with our customs, the lan- two carved stones were cast up, with guage and the traditions by which the figures upon each very entire. we have long been distinguished. A This circumstance naturally led to an vast harvest, however, still remains to examination of all the stones, to a be gathered from this interesting consideration of the manner in which field ; and your excellent Miscellany, they were originally placed, and to an Mr Editor, can seldom be better em- attention to those which yet remained ployed than in accomplishing the work untouched. Upon examination, no it has already so well begun, hy col- other figured stone appeared ; but, lecting, for the information of future what was remarkable, many of those inquirers, the materials so protiisely taken up were sandstone, while the afforded by a country which, in the hill on which they were placed, and picturesque features of its natural all the hills in the neighbourhoo!, scenery, and in the poetic character of are whinstone rock. Those which the peculiarities of its inhabitants, is remained untouched were set on end, not inferior to any depariment of Eu- and so arranged as to form two arches rope.

of concentric circles. So far as could In a future communication I shall be judged at the time of discovery;' the whole erect stones, which were, ing space between the centre and the in general, from a foot and a half to circle was laid with pavement. At two feet and a half high, were so the distance of seven feet and a half placed as to make up two figures of a from the same central pillar C, there circular, or, perhaps, more nearly of was another circle of stones marked an elliptical form, the one contained A, thirty-two in number, placed in an within the other. In the centre was a upright position, and very much recylindrical stone pillar of the same sembling those of the inner circle B. height with the rest, and near to it The stones in both circles were placed were the carved stones.

close together. Between the circles It is to be regretted that most of there was neither pavement nor stone the stones were taken up before their of any description. Neither A nor B number, their regular arrangement, were perfect circles, the diameter of and individual position, were ascer- A, from north to south, being fifteen tained. This good effect, however, feet one inch, while its diameter from

esulted from the discovery of this east to west was only fourteen feet structure, that it induced some work- nine inches; in the same manner, the men, who were lately ploughing a diameter of B, from east to west, was field about five or six hundred yards five feet ten inches, while from north due east of the place above described, to south it was six feet one inch. to conclude, when their ploughs re

It is curious to observe, that many peatedly struck against some stones, of the stones here found, like those that they had come to something si- discovered last year, are sandstone, milar to what had been so recently while none of the same kind can be discovered at so short a distance, and got nearer than a quarry at Cupar to pay particular attention to preserve moor, which is seven miles distant. every stone in its original position. It is also worthy of notice, that the They accordingly proceeded to re- number of stones in the outer circle move all the earth with the greatest A, corresponds exactly with the numcare, and their expectations of finding ber of points in the compass, that in another curiosity were soon complete- the inner circle B there is half the ly realized. Upon acquainting me number, and that in both circles a with the circumstance, I went and stone larger than the rest is placed at carefully examined the situation of each of the cardinal points. this structure; attended to its forın At the distance of a few yards on and arrangement; then took the dis the south, there were also discovered mensions of its different circles, and the under ground two curious whinstones, stones of which they were composed. of one of which fig. 4. is a correct Its situation, like that of the former, drawing. It resembles in shape the was a lateral flat on the south side of frustum of a cone, with a small pro the same ridge of hills, and also at an jection at the greater end, through equal distance from the summit and which is a round hole. From this, at the stream below.

the distance of nine inches, and also In the centre was placed, in an up- near the base, is a slit two and a half right position, a cylindrical sandstone, inches in length, and extending inone foot two inches high, (marked C wards about an inch and a half; on the in the annexed drawing,) and having side directly opposite to this slit part the diameter of its base one foot. As of the stone is broken off. The perround this stone, as a centre, at the pendicular height of the frustum is distance of three feet, were sixteen seven inches, the diameter of the small other stones, placed also in an up- end is seven and a half inches, and right position, and in the form of a the diameter of the greater end is circle. This circle is marked B. The eleven. At the top or small end of stones of which it was composed were the stone there is an excavation, aof various sizes, from fifteen to twenty round which is a margin of rather inches in height; from eight to eigh- more than half an inch in breadth. teen in breadth, and from four to nine From this cavity, which is five inches in thickness. Due south of the centre, in depth, and capable of containing a and between it and the circle B, there quart, there is a round hole reaching were placed in a horizontal position, to the bottom of the stone. two stones containing hieroglyphics in The other stone is so much broken ulto relievo, very entire. The remain that I have not attempted to give you

Fig. 1.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors]

Fig. 3.

Fig 4. a drawing of it. Its shape appears to former it has a hole in the side near have originally much resembled that to the base, and reaching about three of the former. Its present perpendi- inches inwards. It has also a cavity cular height is seven inches, the dia- at the top, and a perforation extendmeter of the greater end is eleven, and ing from the cavity to the bottom. that of the small end nine. Like the The perforation in this stone is four

31

VOL.I.

" that

inches in depth, exactly double the temples, or oratories,—that the excadepth of the perforation on the other. vated stones were for containing holy

The above described monument was water, which the Druids, as well as allowed to remain for ten days in its the Greeks, the Jews, and other anoriginal form for public inspection, cient nations, were accustomed to use, but as some people, out of mischief, -and that the burned human bones or from an expectation of finding hid- (which were found under the stone den treasure, were beginning to lift marked fig. 2.) were the remains of and injure some of the stones, and as the sacrifices here offered. If these no method of preserving them in safety ancient monuments were Druidical in their original situation could be temples, they were no doubt much easily adopted, it was considered ne- smaller than those temples of the cessary to remove them. They were Druids, of which descriptions are getaken up in presence of a concourse of nerally given; but we are informed people who had assembled to gratify by Toland, (in his History of the their curiosity, when underneath the Druids, p. 134, Huddleston's edition, carved stone, marked fig. 2. were Montrose, 1814,) that“ the temples of found burned human bones and char- the Druids are circles of obelisks, or coal. A considerable quantity of the erect stones, some larger, some narashes I have retained in my possession. rower, (as in all other edifices, some George Tod, Esq. of Luthrie, on more, and some less magnificent." whose property these ancient circles Huddleston mentions, in his notes were discovered, has with much civi- upon the same work, p. 322, lity presented them to me, and they from the small size of many of the are now placed precisely in their ori- Druidical temples, it is probable the ginal form in a wood behind the multitude were never admitted withmanse, a good subject for the exami- in the circle of erect stones, but stood nation of the antiquary.

in the outer court, betwixt the circle It were much to be wished, that, of and the surrounding grove.” And those ancient monuments which are Chalmers observes, " that the number occasionally discovered in various parts and variety of the Druid remains in of the country, an accurate drawing, North Britain are almost endless." as well as a correct description, were “ Oratories,” he says, p. 71,

existed made up, and given to the public, in- among the earliest people. These anstead of allowing them, as frequently cient places of worship consisted of happens, to be destroyed, or consign- plots of ground, which, as they were ed to oblivion. By this means the enclosed, and open above, were approcuriosity of many would be gratified, priated to the public worship of faa spirit of inquiry would be excited, milies and villages.' and much additional light might na- As to two temples being found near turally be expected to be thrown over each other, Toland and other writers a subject, at present obscure, but mention the circumstance as quite highly interesting. It is from a de- common. Chalmers, in his Caledosire of this nature, Mr Editor, that I nia, (London edition, 1807,) speaking have been induced to lay before you of Druidical circles, says, Those enthese particulars with regard to the closures are sometimes forined of a ancient circles above described. With single circle, and often of double and my very limited knowledge of the treble concentric circles of upright subject, I am far froin presuming to stones. In general, only one or two offer

any decided opinion, either as to of those enclosures are seen in one their origin, or the use to which they place ; but in many districts of North were applied. I have given a fair Britain, there are found three, four, statement of facts, and leave it to those and even more, in the same vicinity.” versed in antiquities to draw the con- Huddleston, p. 305, accounts for two clusion for themselves. It might ap- temples being found near each other, pear odd, however, in a popular work as well as their being in a direction of this nature, were I not to observe from east to west, in the following to the general reader, that, from To- manner, that, as the Druids acted land's History of the Druids, and the in the double capacity of priests and Caledonia of Chalmers, one may na- civil magistrates, it was naturally to turally be led to infer, that the above be expected, that they would be prodescribed monuments were Druidical vided with a judicial, as well as a re

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »