Page images

bourhood of Rome. The Italians, many ages after, were in use to give to the Tay the name of New Tiber; and Fordun gave the name of Tyber-more to an extensive moor which lies west from the town of Perth.

“ As the field at Rome was by the early Romans consecrated to Mars, so their descendants found, in the field adjoining the Tay, an old temple, which the British or Welch writers say was built many ages before, by one of the British kings, and dedicated to Mars. The Romans performed worship there to that heathen deity, in hopes that their expeditions would thereby be favoured in the new country into which they were come.

“ Agricola pitched his camp in the middle of that field, on the spot where Perth stands. He proposed to make it a winter-camp; and afterwards built what he intended should be a colonial town. He fortified it with walls, and with a strong castle, and supplied the ditches with water by an aqueduct from the Almond. Also, with much labour to his soldiers, and probably to the poor natives, a large wooden bridge was constructed over the river at Perth.

“ These particulars, which Mr Adamson relates, were not of his own invention; they were agreeable to the current tradition. And he, or the speaker whom he introduces, says they were written in an old manuscript, but were slipt, as many other things were, out of the records which were more recent.


To what degree of credit they are entitled, cannot now be determined; but a fable of late origin, respecting the situation of Perth, demands refutation. Boece has a passage, of which the following is an abstract, in his History of Scotland.

“ About the year 1210, Berth, or Bertha, which stood near to the river Tay, nearly two miles north from Perth, was destroyed in the night-time by a very great inundation. So violent was the torrent, that the whole town was undermined, the houses levelled, and many persons of both sexes lost their lives. The royal palace did not escape. The King's youngest son, John, with his nurse, were carried down the river and drowned, with about fourteen of the King's domestics. William the First, surnamed the Lyon, did not long survive the catastrophe, for he died A. D. 1214. He laid the foundation of the present town of Perth, and endowed it with ample privileges, which were confirmed by the succeeding monarchs, with many additional privileges, and was the first royal burgh of the kingdom.”

Of this same inundation, we have an account differing in very essential particulars from Boece, both in Fordun and Major. The following summary of the narrative, in which both these respectable authors a. gree, is in the words of Mr Scott.

“ In the year 1210, and, as some would have it, about the time of the feast of St Michael, there happened such a great fall of rain, as made the brooks and rivers exceed their usual channels, and carry

off much of the harvest-crop from the fields. The water of Tay, with the water of Almond, being swelled by


[ocr errors]

the increasing rain, and by a spring-tide from the sea, passed through a great part of that town, which of old was called Bertha, now also Perth, in Scotland. In consequence of a mound or rampart giving way, not only some houses, but also the large bridge of St John, with an ancient chapel, were overthrown. William, the King, David, Earl of Huntington, the King's brother, Alexander, the King's son, with some of the principal nobility, went into a boat, and sailed quickly out of the town, otherwise possibly they might have perished. Of the burgesses, and other persons of both sexes, some went into boats, and others fled for safety to the galleries or balconies which were over their houses:'

In confirmation of this account, Mr Walter Goodall, in his edition of Fordun's Scoti-Chronicon, in the year 1759, thought it necessary, for the vindication of the antiquities of Perth, to subjoin to the account which Fordun gives, an annotation from a Latin manuscript in the College of Edinburgh. It runs thus :-" The author, viz. Fordun, plainly relates these things concerning one and the same city. But Hector Boece, and George Buchanan, his follower, tell a fabulous story of an ancient city called Bertha," &c. &c. &c.

Finally, in order to overthrow the fable utterly, the reverend and learned Mr Scott brought forward the following mass of evidence in his Statistical Account of Perth.

“1. It is certain that the town had the name of Perth long before the year 1210.

There are many hundreds of charters, from about the year 1106 to the



year 1210, still extant. Any person who will take the trouble of looking into these charters, will find, that whenever there was occasion to mention the town, its name was always written Perth, or Pertht, or, by way of contraction, Pert, the same as afterwards. There was no noble person who gave his name to Perth ; but there were some persons who took their surname from that town. It was a mere local surname, as many others were. Thus, in ancient as well as in modern writs, persons are mentioned of the following surnames, viz. Stirling, Aberdeen, Abernethy, Dundee, Kirkcaldy, Hawick, Musselburgh, and many others of the same kind.

6 2. It is certain, that tenements and streets in Perth are described in charters prior to the

year 1210, the same as they afterwards were, which would not have been the case if the old town had been destroyed.

“ I crave the indulgence of producing one instance from two charters which belonged to the abbey of Scone, and which are contained in the old chartulary preserved in the Advocates Library at Edinburgh. They are not very long ; I shall therefore give translations of them, only adding the original words where the tenement and the street are described :

I. Charter of William the King, to Henry Bald, con

cerning a land in Perth. « William, by the Grace of God, King of Scots, to all good men of his whole realm, clergy and laity, greeting. “ Know all, who are, or shall be, me to have gi


ven, and consigned, and by this my present charter; to have confirmed to Henry Bald, that land in my burgh of Perth, which James, the son of Simon, and others, my Provosts of Perth, have delivered to him according to my precept,

“ To wit, that land which is in the front of the street, which leads from the church of St John Baptist to the castle of Perth, on the east side, opposite to the house of Andrew, the son of Simon. (Illam scilicet, quæ est in fronte vici illius, qui tendit de Ecclesia Sancti Johannis Baptiste, usque ad Castellum de Pert, ex orientali parte, contra domum Andreæ filii Simonis.)

“ To be held to him and his heirs, of me and heirs, in fee and heritage, freely, peaceably, fully and honourably. Rendering thence yearly to my Chamberlain one pound of pepper at the feast of St Michael.

“ Witnesses, Hugh Chancellor; Philip de Valoines, my Chamberlain ; Malcolm, son of Earl Duncan ; William de Hay; Alexander, Sheriff of Stirling; Roger de Mortimer; Philip de Lundin; at Perth. 14th day of April.”


To ascertain the year in which this charter was granted, it is necessary to make the following remarks concerning the witnesses.

“ 1. Philip de Valoines was made Great Chamber. lain about the year 1180. . But he continued in that office about thirty-three years.

“ 2. Duncan M‘Duff, Earl of Fife, the father of Malcolm, who succeeded him, died in 1203.

« PreviousContinue »