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OTHER ANCIENT ANNALS.
Untrustworthiness of the allusions to that country-Life of
It is a well-known fact that most writers who have dealt with the early history of Scotland state that Scotia, the ancient name of this country, was a name applied to Ireland cnly till the eleventh century. This is the opening sentence of a pamphlet recently published, entitled, “ Ireland not the Hibernia of the Ancients," in which an attempt has been already made to controvert such a belief. But as the idea that Ireland was at one time peopled by Scots, and therefore called Scotia, is to a great extent based on Bede's Ecclesiastical History of England, a further attempt will be made in the following pages to prove that Scotland was the only Scotia, by showing that this work is largely interpolated for the purpose of making people believe that Scotia was once a name for Ireland. This will be done by comparing it with the writings of later historians who have
copied most of it nearly verbatim. Even were the work as it now exists taken into consideration, it would be seen that its information regarding the question at issue is contradictory and unreliable.
The Venerable Bede, author of the history before us, was born in the year 673. There being some uncertainty regarding the place of his birth, it will be necessary to endeavour to ascertain its true situation, especially as it has a close relation to the subject on hand, for it is possible he may be found to have been born near the Firth of Forth. William of Malmesbury says: “Britain contains in its remotest parts, bordering on Scotia, the place of Bede's birth and education. Through the district runs the river Wira, of no mean width, and of tolerable rapidity.”? This is taken by modern writers to refer to the borders of present Scotland, and the river Wear in England. The ancient British name of the Forth, however, was Werid,” and there are reasons for believing that this is one of the many instances of the transference of the history of places in the south of Scotland to England on account of the similarity of the ancient names of rivers, towns, &c., in the different countries. In several cases this appears to have been done designedly, as an opportunity will afterwards be taken to show. Meanwhile it will be sufficient to say, that incidents which Fordun narrates as having taken place on the north bank of the Forth, are transferred in an apparently interpolated passage in one of Simeon of Durham's works, to the banks of the Wear in England. 3 It may be remembered also that the mistake in Ptolemy's
1 Bede's Miscellaneous Works, by Giles, vol. i, pref, p, xlvi. 2 Skene's Celtic Scotland, vol. iii, p. 45. : 3 Ibid., vol. i. pp. 422, 423,
map of Scotland, affects all the country between the Wear in England and the Tay in Scotland, as noticed in “ Ireland not the Hibernia of the Ancients.” 1 The allusion in the above quotation from William of Malmesbury's Chronicle to the remotest region of Britain, bordering on Scotia, supports the belief that he is referring to the Forth when he speaks of the river Wira. It is well known from authentic records that in this historian's life-time (the twelfth century) the name of Scotia was confined to the country north of the Forth. Bede's birthplace should therefore be looked for in the neighbourhood of the Firth of Forth. Two writers, Langen and Engelnussius, state that Rede was born in Saxony in Germany.” They have in all likelihood seen it mentioned somewhere that he was born in Saxonia, which was no doubt quite true, but this was a different place from Saxony in Germany. It evidently refers to the district called Saxonia by the Pictish Chronicle, Tighernach's Annals, and the Annals of Ulster, which is pretty nearly comprehended in the Lothians of the present day. This harmonises with William of Malmesbury's reference to the place of Bede's birth, and confirms the belief that it was near the Firth of Forth.
The monastery in which Bede spent the most of his life was situated in the same neighbourhood. Malmesbury, writing of the place of his birth and education, adds: “This region, formerly exhaling the grateful odour of monasteries, or glittering with a multitude of cities built by the Romans, now desolate through the ancient devastations of the Danes, or those more recent of the
1 Page 52. 2 Bede's Miscellaneous Works, by Giles, vol, i, pref, pp. cvii. and
Normans, presents but little to allure the mind. Here is the river Were, of considerable breadth and rapid tide; which, running into the sea, receives the vessels borne by gentle gales on the calm bosom of its haven. Both its banks have been made conspicuous by one Benedict, who there built churches and monasteries-one dedicated to Peter, the other to Paul.” Bede himself is quoted by Malmesburyl as saying that he was born within the possessions of the monastery of the Apostles Peter and Paul which is at Wearmouth, and, after spending some time under the care of Abbots Benedict and Ceolfrid, he passed the remainder of his life at the said monastery. Dr Skenepoints out that Bede, in his “Lives of the Abbots of Wearmouth,” quotes a letter of one of the Abbots, in which he says that the monastery of Wearmouth was in Saxonia; and he adds that this name remained till a late period attached to the most northern part of the Saxon territory in Britain. Hector Boethius, or Boece, says that Bede, during the latter part of his life, lived at Mailros, an Abbey in Scotland, where there was a community of monks. Dempster, in his Historia Ecclesiasticus gentis Scotorum, to a certain extent corroborates ühis. There is good reason for believing, as will be afterwards shown, that the Mailros of the ninth and preceding centuries was situated nearer the Firth of Forth than the Melrose of the present day, and if so, Boece's notice would harmonise with William of Malmesbury's and Bede's own words regarding the monastery in which he spent the later years of his life. All these references, it will be seen, have points of agreement, and they lead to the belief that the Venerable
• 1 Chronicle, Bohn's Translation, p. 56,