Thursday 17 April 2014

The Making of the Ulster Scot (pt2)

The Scandinavian Invasion

(4) But we come now to another Teutonic invasion which must have still more profoundly affected them -- the seizure and occupation of both Galloway and Strathclyde by the Scandinavians. There is a record in the Ulster Annals to the effect that in 822 "Galloway of the Britons was laid waste with all its dwellings and its Church." But in 870 again both Strathclyde and Galloway were devastated by the terrible Northmen; Alclyde was taken and demolished, and many captives and much booty carried away. And the chronicler, Symeon of Durham, records another desperate invasion of the same territories by the Danes in 875, when they laid waste the country and "made great slaughter" of the inhabitants; and this is confirmed by the Ulster Annals. Referring to the same incursion in his "History of the County of Ayr" (p. 15), Paterson says that they "laid waste Galloway and a great part of Strathclyde," and that thus harassed by the insatiable Northmen, many of the inhabitants "resolved on emigrating to Wales. Under Constatin, their chief, they accordingly took their departure... The Strathclyde kingdom was, of course, greatly weakened by the departure of their best warriors, and it continued to be oppressed both by the Scots and the Anglo-Saxon princes." "And with the retreating emigrants," says Robertson, "the last semblance of independence departed from the Britons of the North ("Scotland Under Her Early Kings," Vol. I., p. 54). But in 944 we find the Danes, Ronald and his sons, in possession of Galloway, and continuing in possession till the end of the century, when the Danes are displaced by the Norwegians, who remain in occupancy till the end of the next century (see Sir Herbert Maxwell's "History of Dumfries and Galloway," p. 48; Skene's "Celtic Scotland," and the "Annals of the Four Masters"). "From the end of the ninth century," says Rait, "Norse settlements continued for 300 years. The districts of Dumfriesshire and Galloway, all of the Western islands, the West coast of the Firth of Clyde northwards, and the coasts from Caithness and Sutherland to the Moray Firth were deeply affected by the influx of a Scandinavian population" (Rait's "Scotland, p. 7). As was inevitable, these Northmen left their mark deep on Galloway and Strathclyde, and added a strong Teutonic ingredient in the population. "It is plain," says Sir Herbert Maxwell, "from the place-names of Norse origin scattered through the stewartry and the shire that there was a permanent Scandinavian settlement there" ("History of Dumfries and Galloway," p. 38).

"A sore and certain test of a colonisation of this description," says Robertson, "is afforded by the topography of the districts occupied, the 'caster' and 'by' invariably marking the presence of the Northmen not only as a dominant, but as an actually occupying class." He then proceeds to give clear evidence of such colonisation by the Northmen in the South-West of Scotland. Sir Herbert Maxwell also refers to "the remains of Scandinavian occupation preserved in the place-names of the South-West. Many hills," he says, "bear the title 'fell' -- the Norse 'fjall' -- as in 'Fell a' Barhullian' in Glasserton parish, or disguised as a suffix, as in 'Criffel.' The well-known test syllable, 'by,' a village, farm, or dwelling, so characteristic of Danish rather than of Norse occupation, takes the place in southern districts which 'bolstadr' holds in northern. 'Lockerby,' the dwelling of Locard or Lockhart; Canonby and Middleby in Dumfriesshire, Busby, Sorby, and Corsby in Wigtonshire are instances in point. 'Vik,' a creek, or small bay, gives the name to Southwick (sand-vik-sandybay), and 'n'es,' a cape, appears in Sinniness (south point), and Borness (burgh or fort point). Pastoral occupation is implied in Fairgirth (sheep-fold). . . Tinwald, like Dingwall in the North, is the Assembly-field, and Mouswald the Mossfield" (Maxwell's "Dumfries and Galloway," pp. 44, 45). A Norwegian writer, quoted by Mackerlie, states that "the language of the Lowlands of Scotland is so much like that of Scandinavia that the Scottish seamen wrecked on the coasts of Jutland and Norway have been able to converse without difficulty in their mother-tongue with the people there."

In short, nothing in Scottish history is more certain than that a very large infusion of Danish and Norse blood has been given to the people of Galloway and Strathclyde. In view of the repeated devastation and depopulation of the country by war and by emigration of the natives, and the large influx and colonisation by Scandinavians, that infusion must have been very large indeed.

The Normans and Saxons

(5) But we have to notice in the next place the greatest revolution of all in the history of this region, and of nearly all Scotland, the revolution caused by the influx of Saxons and Normans.

"Through the troubles in England consequent on the Danish and Norman invasions," says Dr. Hume Brown, a "succession of Saxon settlers crossed the Tweed in search of the peace they could not find at home. In itself this immigration must have powerfully affected the course of Scottish history; but under the Saxon Margaret and her sons the southern influence was directed and concentrated with a deliberate persistence that eventually reduced the Celtic element to a subsidiary place in the development of the Scottish nation." And here it is most important to take note of and to carry in our memory the emphatic statement of Dr. Hume Brown with regard to the district under consideration when the Saxon and Norman colonisation began. "From all we know of Strathclyde and Galloway previous to the time of the Saxonised and Normanised kings" (Dr. Brown says) "extensive districts must have consisted of waste land" ("History of Scotland," Cambridge Historical Series, pp. 50, 89).

The movement which began under Malcolm II. (1005-1034) went on on a still larger scale in the time of Malcolm Canmore (1057-1093). He had long resided as an exile at the Court of Edward the Confessor, and had become thoroughly English in sentiment and sympathy. It was in his time that the Norman Conquest took place, and had a profound influence on the history of Scotland -- an influence which appears not only in the copious inflow of Englishmen into Scotland, but in the gradual transformation of Scottish society and Scottish institutions. "The form in which the Conquest was first felt in Scotland," says Dr. Hill Burton, "was by a steady migration of the Saxon people northward. They found in Scotland people of their own race, and made a marked addition to the predominance of the Saxon and Teutonic elements" (Hill Burton's "History of Scotland," Vol. I., p. 373),

On the death of their King at Hastings, Edgar the Atheling had been chosen by the English people to succeed him, but he and his mother and two sisters, driven from England by the Conqueror, took refuge at the Court of Malcolm Canmore. And not only the Royal family, but "many of the Saxons fled into Scotland," says Cunningham, "to escape from their Norman masters . . . From this period," he adds, "we find a stream of Saxon and Norman settlers pouring into Scotland. They came not as conquerors, and yet they came to possess the land. With amazing rapidity, sometimes by Royal grants, and sometimes by advantageous marriages, they acquired the most fertile districts from the Tweed to the Pentland Firth; and almost every noble family in Scotland now traces from them its descent. The strangers brought with them English civilisation' (Cunningham's "Church History of Scotland," Vol I., p. 105). Edgar's sister, Margaret, who became Malcolm's Queen, was an able and ambitious, as well as an intensely religious woman after the Roman fashion, bent on the predominance of the English interest and of the English, that is, of the Roman Church. In 1070 Malcolm, her husband, made a raid into England, harried Cumberland, and carried back with him to Scotland as captives large numbers of young people of both sexes. "So great was the number of those captives," says the chronicler, Symeon, of Durham, "that for many years they were to be found in every Scottish village, nay, in every Scottish hovel. In consequence, Scotland became filled with menservants and maidservants of English parentage; so much so that even at the present day," says Symeon, writing in 1120, "not only is not the smallest village, but not even is the humblest house to be found without them." "And besides the Saxons, many of the Norman nobility, dissatisfied with the rule of the Conqueror, retired to Scotland, where they were encouraged by every mark of distinction that could be heaped upon them" (Paterson's "History of the County of Ayr," Vol. I., p. 18). After referring to Symeon's testimony, Dr. Macewen adds that "in the next half-century there arrived with the monks a stream of settlers engaged in trade and agriculture, who frequented the towns or markets which were usually established in the vicinity of monasteries. According to another chronicler, William of Newburgh, all the inhabitants of Scottish towns and burghs were Englishmen" ("History of the Church in Scotland," Vol. I., pp. 172, 173). It is certainly not going too tar to say, as Mr. Andrew Lang does, that "the long reign of Malcolm Canmore intensified the sway of English ideas, and increased the prepotency of the English element" (Article on "Scotland" in "Encyclop. Brit.").

And the policy of Malcolm was followed by his successors. Of his son Edgar (1097-1107) we are informed that "he welcomed the stream of settlers who poured into Scotland in ever-increasing volume," while Edgar's brother, Alexander I. (1107-1124) "did his utmost to Anglicise both Church and State to the north of the Forth."

It was, however, by David I, (1124-1153), who has been called "the maker of Scotland," that more was done in the way of Anglicising, Teutonising, and revolutionising that country than by any of his predecessors. And now it is by Norman rather than by Saxon agency and influence that the revolution is effected. Instead of describing in my own words the change that was now wrought, I think it better here, for obvious reasons, to put before you the statements of Dr. Hume Brown in his "History of Scotland." "When during the reign of David the Eastern Lowlands became the heart of his dominions," he says, "the future course of Scotland may be said to have been determined; it was then finally assured that the Teutonic races were to be the predominating force in fashioning the destinies of the country." "It was during David's reign that the Norman element attained such a predominance as to become the great formative influence in the Scottish kingdom." "The dominating fact of the period is the extensive assignment of lands within the bounds of Scotland to men of Norman, Saxon, or Danish extraction. Wherever these strangers settled they formed centres of force, compelling acceptance of the new order in Church and State by the reluctant natives. . . . This gradual apportionment of lands by successive kings had begun at least in the reign of Malcolm Canmore; but it was David who performed it on a scale which converted it into a revolution." As examples of what was done Dr. Hume Brown notices the grant of Annandale to de Bruce, of Cunningham in Ayrshire to de Moreville, and of Renfrew, with part of Kyle, to Fitzalan; but these are only specimens of a colonisation which took place on a most extensive scale. Referring to Strathclyde, Lothian, and the East country north of the Forth, Dr. Hume Brown proceeds -- "In the case of these three districts, the revolution was at once rapid and far-reaching. Following the example of his fellows elsewhere, the Southern baron planted a castle on the most advantageous site on his new estate. With him be brought a body of retainers, by whose aid he at once secured his own position, and wrought such changes in his neighbourhood as were consistent with the conditions on which the fief had been granted. In the vill or town which grew up beside his castle were found not only his own people, but natives of the neighbourhood who, by the feudal law, went to the lord with the lands on which they resided . . . In the East country to the north of the Forth a change in nomenclature is a significant indication of the breach that was made with the old order" ("History of Scotland," Vol. I., pp. 88, 89, 90). "Of the nation itself, it may be said)" Dr. Brown adds, "that the Teutonic element had now the preponderating influence in directing its affairs. The most valuable parts of the country were in the hands of men of Norman and Saxon descent, and the towns owed their prosperity to the same people" (p. 131).

To be concluded...

This article was originally published in The Witness of 10th April 1913.

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