Picture of William Camden

William Camden

places mentioned

Coins of Britain; The Celts, Picts and Scots

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Image of coins

Image of coins

Image of coins


Image of coins

Image of coins

Image of coins

Image of coins

Image of coins


TO the British Coines, the portraicts whereof I have here shewed, you looke, haply, that I should adjoyne some brief notes also. but to adjoyne of such things as the revolution of so many ages past hath altogether overcast with darknesse, to proteste plainely, I see not: and your selfe, when you shall read thee slender ghesses of mine, will avoch with me, that I walke in a mirke and mistie night of ignorance. that the old Britans used brasse money, or rings, or else plates of yron tried to a certain just weight, I have declared already before, out of Caesar: and there be, who averre that they have seene some of these found in little pitchers. Besides these, found there are otherwhiles in this Island peeces of gold, silver, and brasse of sundry fashions, and as differing in poise [weight]: all for the most part of the one side hollow, some without letters, others with expresse inscriptions of letters; of which sort, I could never heare that any have been digged up elsewere, until such time as Nicolaus Fabricius de Petrisco, a right noble young Gentleman of Provane in France, one for such antiquities and old Medals or peeces of money, passing skilfull and of judicious insight, verie lately had shewed me the like found in France. But to come unto these of ours, which I have here proposed.

2. The first is a coine of Cunobleinus, who flourished in the daies of August and Tiberius: wherein, if I deceive not my selfe, are engraven the heads of two-faced Janus; peradventure, because even at that time Britaine began to cast off and leave their barbarous rudeness. For we read how Janus was the first that changed barbarous maners into civill behaviour, and therefore was depainted [depicted] with two fore-heads, to signifie that he had of one shape made another.

The second also is Cunobelinus Coine, shewing his face, and inscription on the one side and the Coiner or Mint-master on the other, with this word TASCIA set to it, which word among the Britains betokeneth a Tribute Penye, as Master David Powell, a man most skilfull in the British language hath enformed me: and is derived perhaps of the Latine taxatio. For the Britains acknowledge not X for their letter. And by the same reason the inscription of MONETA is seen oft times in peeces of Roman money.

In like manner, the third is a Cone of the same Cunobelinus, with an horse and CVNO with a corne eare also, and CAMV (as it should seeme) for Camalodunum, which was the Roiall citie and seat of Cunobelinus.

The fourth with VER may be thought a Coine of the Verlamians.

The fifth againe, is one of Cunobelinus his peeces.

The sixth, because it giveth no light by letters, I wote not what to make of it.

The seventh, a coine of Cunobelinus, having this inscription, TASC. NOVANEL, with a womans head; whether it should imply a tribute peece of the Trinovants, over whom he was ruler, I cannot avow: on the other side, Apollo with his Harpe, and CVNOBELIN, putteth me in remembrance of that which elsewhere I have observed as concerning the God Belinus: namely that the Gauls in old time worshipped Apollo under the name of Belinus: which Dioscorides also doth confirme, writing in plaine and expresse terms that the herbe Apollinaris, with the juice whereof the Gaules were wont to annoint their arrowes, is in the Gaules tongue called belinuntia. So that upon this I may bee bold in some sort to conjecture that the name of Cunobelinus, as also of Casibelinus, is drawn from the worship of Apollo, like as the names of Phoebitius and Delphidius. If not rather, like as Apollo for his bush of yellow haire, is named in Greek ??????, in Latin flavus, that is, yellow: so likewise among the Britans and Gauls, belin. For that which is yellow in British speech they call melin , belin , and felin , and for the same cause, that ancient Belinus, Cunobelinus, and Casibelinus, who also goeth under the name of Casivelaunus, may seeme to be so named, as one would say, Yellow Princes. For that cuno is a name of dignitie, the Britans confesse, and a thing which is especiall and principall they terme at this day cynoc. Certes, that it hath been a name of honour, Cungetorix, Cunobelinus, Cuneglasus, Cuneda, and Cunedagius, Princes names among the Britans, like as Cyngetorix, Cunvictolitanius, and Cunetodunus among the ancient Gauls, doe after a sort make good and declare. Neither am I ignorant that Gildas hath translated Cuneglasus in Latine lanionem fulvum vel furvum, that is, A lion tawney, or darke hued Butcher: whom others have interpreted principem caeruleum sive vitrei color , that is, a Prince blew, or of a blewish or woad color: like as Cuneda, principem bonum , that is, A good Prince. That the Germans Koning and our king came from cuno I dare not yet suppose. Let it suffice, by these my sundry ghesses, to have thus dallied, lest I lay open my selfe to the scorne of others.

3. The eighth, with a chariot horse, and a wheele or shield under-neath, having in the reverse BODVO, may seeme to be a Coine of the Nation called Boduni: or else of Queen Bodicia, who is diversly named Voadicia, and Bunduica.

The ninth, wherein is represented an horseman, with speare and shield, and these letters in scattering wise, CAERATIC, I would deeme to be a Coine of that warlike Prince Caratacus, whose praises Tacitus highly extolleth.

The tenth, upon the one side whereof, under an horseman, is the inscription REX, and on the other COM, both I and some others are pleased with this conceit that it was a coine of Connius Atrabatensis whom Caesar mentioneth.

The eleventh, which doth represent a little halfe moon with this Inscription, REX CALLE, is not much unlike the name of that most famous and frequented City, Callena.

The twelfth hath a winged head with this word ATEVLA: and in the reverse a Lion and this Inscription, VLATOS. What the meaning might be of these words, I seeke and seek, but in vaine. Indeed by this very same portrature and image, I have seen upon peeces of Roman mony the goddesse Victorie expressed. But that Victorie should be in the British tongue called Ateula, I never yet could find. Mary, that they named Victorie Andate I have out of Dio reported already: and whether the same were Andrarta, worshipped of the Vocontii in Gaule, let some other say, for I dare not.

Here also may you behold the thirteenth, with this word DIAS in an eight-angled figure, and an horse on the contrary side: the fourteenth with a swine, and these letters VANOC, the head also of a goddesse, haply Venus, or else of Venutius, whom Tacitus speaketh of. The fifteenth, with an head and helmet upon it, and this inscription, DVRNACO: and wither that were Dumnacus a Prince of the Andes whom Caesar doth mention, I wot not. The sixteenth with an horse, and this word ORCETI. The seventeenth with the image of Augustus and TASCIA, and on the reverse a bull boaking [meaning uncertain - not in O. E. D. ] with his hornes. The eighteenth, with CVNO within a laurell garland: and upon the back part an horse, with the inscription TASCE.

4. We have seen besides one other coine with the flying horse Pegasus, and CAMV: on the backe part whereof, the forme of a man with an helmet and shield, within standing corne, and CVNO: another, with an horse ill favouredly portraied, and EISV, peradventure for ISVRII, and on the backe side, and eare of corne: also another with a souldier carying a speare, and on the other side, within a wreath or chein, SOLIDV. That it should be the peece of mony called Solidus, I doe not beleeve; because the said peece was in that age alwaies of gold, whereas this was of silver. More probable it is that it should have a reference to solidurii. For so the ancient French named men devoted in behalfe of others: whose condition was this, that looke unto whose friendship they had betaken themselves, they should together with them enjoy all the comforts and commodities of this life. If any violent accident hapned unto them, they were either to sustaine the same chance together with them, or els to kill themselves: neither hath ever any one of them been found, who after the party was slaine unto whose friendship he had devoted himselfe, would refuse to die. Now whether from these, those souldiers took their name, who being sworne pensioners to any one Prince or State, take a certaine pension, and with most nations of Europe carry almost the very same name, to wit, soldiers, soldates, soldados, &. I had rather others should thinke than my selfe determine: although for mine own part, I would more willingly subscribe to this opinion that in these later and more moderne times, they were termed solidarii for distinctions sake, for those who served in the wars in regard of their tenours [feudal obligations], without pay of mony.

5. Whether all these kinds of coine went commonly currant as monie, from one to another and in ordinary trafficke and exchange, or were at the first apart for some speciall use and purpose, is a question debated among the learned. But in few words, take here my conjecture, if I may be so bold as to interpose the same. Considering that Caesar had appointed what Custome or Impost the Britans should pay yeerly, and whereas under Augustus they endured those paiments for portage, or toll, as well in carrying foorth as bringing in commodities, by little and little other tributes were also imposed on them: to with for Corne-grounds, Plant-plots, Groves or Parks, Pasturages of greater and smaller beasts, as being subdued now to obey as subjects, and not to serve as slaves, I have been of opinion that those peeces of mony were stamped at first for that use; namely for greater beasts, with an horse; for smaller with a swine; for woods with a tree; for corne fields with an eare of corne, as in that peece of the Verlamians, which carieth the Inscription VERV. And for those with the head of a man or woman, they may seem stamped upon the poll or person of every one: of women, from the twelfth, of men, from the fourteenth yeere of their age. Which imposition Bunduica or Bodicia a Queen of the Britans complaineth of unto her people in these words: Yee doe both grase and also plough for the Romans, yea yee pay an yeerlie tribute in respect of your verie bodies. For this purpose I have thought there was in olde time one certaine kind of mony stamped, seeing that in the scripture it is plainly called numisma census , and Hesichius expoundeth ??????, ????? ?????????? ????????????, Census is a kind of personall mony paid for every poll. And the more stedfastly beleeve I this, for that in some there is expressed the Mintmaster marking mony with TASCIA, which among the Britans betokeneth a tribute-Denier. Howbeit I deny not, but that afterwards these passed promiscuously as mony from one to another. Neither am I yet of the same mind with those that would have the Swine, the Horse, the corne eare, Janus, &. to have been the peculiar badges of nations, families or Princes, considering we may see in these, that one and the same Prince and nation used sundry badges, as Cunobelinus, who stamped in his mony a swine, an horse, a corne eare and other things.

6. Now, whether these tribute peeces were coined by the Romanes, or the Provinciall people, or their Kings, seeing that the whole world was taxed by Augustus, I may not easily affirme. Conjecture I may that they were stamped by the British kings, considering that Britaine from the time of Julius Caesar unto Claudius daies, used their own lawes, and was committed to the government of their own Kings, as Dio writeth: and withall, seeing that they represent the images and titles of British Princes. For the Romans by a received custome had kings in their provinces as instruments to bring the people into servitude: who being now become, as it were, the Romanes fellowes and associates, by little and little were framed (a thing usuall with persons conquered) to their fashions, and so, as it seemeth, began after the Roman maner both to stamp mony at a certain poise, and also to imprint a name upon the peeces. But contrariwise in Jurie [Jewery], as may be collected by the answer of Christ, marked they were with Caesars face and a superscription, and that in all likelihood by the Romans themselves. Which Cardinall Baronius a painfull [painstaking] ecclesiasticall Historian, sheweth in these words: The maner , saith hee, among the Romans was that mony should be coined by the Emperors, in regard of Tribute or Tax, and not to remaine alwaies the same and after one sort, but according to the rise and fall of the said tributes, differ from other peeces of usuall mony in this point, for that the value of these ordinary peeces is alwaies one and the same, but those of Tax or tribute, ever as the quality of Tribute changed, were made proportionable to the said tribute. But divers learned men accord not in this point with Baronius.


THE first Romane Emperor after Julius Caesar, that earnestly set his mind upon the conquest of Britain, was Claudius: and hee having put over sea hither with an armie, brought the South part thereof into the form of a province. At which very time, this first peece of mony may seem to have been stamped, which carrieth this abbreviated Inscription, TI. CLAVD. CAES. AVG. P. M. TR. P. VIIII IMP. XVI, that is, Tiberius Claudius Caesar ; Augustus Pontifex Maximus , that is, High Priest; Tribunicia potestate IX , that is In Tribunes authoritie the ninth time, Imperator XVI , that is, sixteen times Imperator. But to explane these titles once for all, ye shall understand that after Julius Caesar, who laid the foundation of the Romane Monarchie, and Octavius who was honoured with the name Augustus, all their successors in honor of them would be called Caesares and Augusti , as though they far surpassed the nature of men. For such things as be of sacred Majesty are named augusta : also, termed they were Pontifices Maximi , or High Priests, for that they were consecrated in all kinds of Priesthood, and overseers of all Sacrifices and religious ceremonies. They usurped likewise the Tribunitian power and authority (for Tribunes in no wise would they be termed), to the end that they might have protection thereby and be inviolable. For, being once invested in this authority, if any man either gave cursed language or offered violence unto them, hee might without processe of condemnation bee killed as a sacrilegious person: and this Tribunitian power they renewed every yeere, and thereby were reckoned the yeers of their Empire. Last of all they were stiled imperatores , because their command and rule was most large, and under that name the power of Kings and Dictators was contained. Now, they were entituled imperatores so oft as they had atchieved any worthy exploit in battell, either in their own persons, or by their Captains. But whereas in the reverse of this peece of mony there is to be seen a triumphall Arch, with the portrait of an horseman between two trophees, and this title, DE BRITAN. I would judge that thereby is meant a twofold victory obtained, in the ninth yeere of Clauduis his Empire, according to the number that sheweth this Tribunitian authority renewed.

8. [II] In the second peece, which also is a coine of Claudius Augustus, out of this inscription, TI. CLAVD. CAES. AVG. GER. TR. P. XII IMP. XIIX, we are taught that in the twelfth yeere of his raign he for a victory wone in Britain was with joifull acclamations saluted imperator the eighteenth time, and at the same instant that the Colonie Camalodunum was thither brought, which is signified expresly by an husbandman imprinted upon it, with a Cow and a Bull. The Romanes (saith Servius) when they were about to found and build cities, being girt in clad after the Gabine fashion, that is to say, with one part of their gowne covering the head, and the other tucked up, yoked on the right hand Bull, and within forth a Cow, and held the crooked plough taile bending inward, so as all the clods of the earth might fall inward. And thus having made a furrow, they did set out the places for wals, holding up the plough from the ground, where the gates should be.

[III] The Sonne of Claudius, whose peece of coine the third is with Greeke Characters, was by vertue of an act of Senate, adorned with the surname of Britannicus, in regard of his fathers fortunate wars, that he might use the same as his owne proper addition. He it was for whom Seneca praised in this wise, That hee might appease Germanie, make way into Britaine, and solemnize both his Fathers triumphs, and also new of his owne. But what should be the meaning of an halfe ship in this coine, with this inscription, Metropolis Etiminii regis? Certes, I cannot for certaine affirme who that Etiminius was, unlesse a man list to imagine him to have beene the very same Adiminius, King Cunobelinus sonne, of whom Suetonius reporteth that he ran away unto C. Caligula.

[IIII ] That which yee see in the fourth place, is a peece of Hadrians mony, with this writing upon it, HADRIANVS AVG: CONSVL III, PATER PATRIAE. And in the other side, EXERCITVS BRITANNICVS, that is, The Armie in Britaine represented by three souldiers. I would deem that it betokeneth the 3 Legions, to wit, Secunda Augusta, Sexta Victrix, and Vicesima Victrix , which served in Britain anno Christi 120. For then was he Consul the third time.

9. [V, VI] The fifth and sixth, which are the coines of Antoninus Pius, carryng this inscription, Antoninus Pius, Pater Patriae, Tribunicia potestate, Consul tertium , and in their reverse, the one having Britaine sitting upon rocks with a militarie Ensigne, a speare and a shield; the other, the selfe same Britane, sitting upon a globe, seeme to have been stamped by the province Britaine, in honour of Antoninus Pius, when hee began his Empire in the yeere of Christ 140. As for that militarie habit of the Province Britaine, it signifieth that Britaine in those daies flourished in glorie of martiall prowesse: like as that peece of money, which at the same time Italie stamped for the honour of him, hath such another figure sitting upon a globe, with cornu-copiae , betokening plentie of all things: that also which Sicilie coined hath the like figure with an eare of corne, in token of fruitfulnesse, semblably that which Mauritania stamped hath a portraict or personage holding two speares with an horse, to shew the glorie of that Province in good horsemanship and chivalrie. Hitherto also is to be referred the ninth, which is a peece of the same Antoninus, but not set in his due place.

[VII] The seventh peece of money, stamped by Commodus, sheweth no more, but that he for a victorie against the Britans, assume into his stile the name of Britannicus: for in the other side thereof is to bee seene Victorie, with a branch of the Date-tree, holding a shield, and sitting upon the shield of the Britans vanquishes, with this inscription, VICTORIA BRITANNICA.

10. [VIII] The eighth, which is a coine of Caracalla, and set here not in the right place, more expresly sheweth by the numerall figures that hee vanquished his enemies in Britaine, in the yeere of our Salvation 214: as also by the Trophee, which Virgil, better than any engraver, portraied in these verses:

A mightie Oke, the boughes whereof were shred from everie side,
Upon an hill he pight [put up], whereon he goodly armour tide,
Duke Mezence spoiles, a trophee brave, o mightie Mars, to thee,
And fits thereto his crests. which yet with gore bloud dropping bee,
The truncheons of that Knight also.

[XII] The same is to be thought of twelfth, which also is one of the same Caracallaes.

[X, XI] But in those of Severus and Geta, there is none obscuritie at all.

[XIII] Who this Aebianus was, I am not yet fully resolved. Some reckon him to be A. Pomponius Aelianus, one of the 30 Tyrants. Others will him to be Cl. Aelianus, one of the sixe Tyrants under Dioclesian. There are also that thinke he was the verie same Tyrant in Britaine, under the Emperour Probus, of whom Zosimus made mention, but suppressed his name, and whom I have written before. Surely, in what time so ever hee lived, we suppose that in Britaine he was named Augustus, considering his peeces of mony be found in this Iland onely, carrying this inscription, IMPERATOR CL. AELIANVS PIVS FELIX AVGVSTVS. In the reverse, there is to be read, VICTORIA AVGVSTI, which betokeneth that he subdued some Barbarians.

11. [XIIII ] The coine of Carausius, with this inscription, Imperator Caius Carausius Pius Foelix Augustus , and in the backside thereof, PAX AVGVSTI, seemeth to have been stamped at the very time when hee had quieted the British Sea, which by reason of rovers was so dangerous.

[XV] When Allectus, who made away Carausius, has put on the imperiall purple, and fought manfully against the Barbarians, he stamped this peece with VIRTVS AVGVSTI. As for the letters Q. L. some would have them to signifie a quartarius [a kind of coin] stamped at London; others the quaestor , that is, Treasurer of London.

[XVI] When as Constantinus Chlorus, being departed this life at Yorke, was now solemnely consecrated, and after the Pagan manner deified, in honour and memoriall of him was this peece of mony stamped: which appeareth evidently by the inscription, and a Temple between two Aegles. These letters underneath P. LON. doe plainely imply pecuniam Londini , that is, that the said money was stamped at London.

[XVII] His wife Flavia Helena, a British Ladie born, as our histories report, and as that most excellent Historiographer Baronius doth confirme, what time as her Sonne Constantinus Maximus had discomfited the tyrant Maxentius, and received these titles, Fundator quietis , that is, The founder of quietnesse, and Liberator orbis , that is, The Deliverer of the world, having procured securities to the State and common-weale, had this peece stamped in honour of him at Triers, as appeareth by the letters S. TR., that is, signata Treviris , that is to say, coined at Triers.

[XVIII] Flavius Constantius Maximus Augustus, the great ornament of Britaine, stamped this coine at Constantinople, as wee are taught by these characters underneath, CONS. with this, GLORIA EXERCITVS, that is, The glorie of the Armie, to curie favor with the souldiers, in whose choise in those daies, and not at the dispose of the Emperour, was the soveraigne rule and government.

[XIX] Constantinus the yonger, Sonne of that Constantinus Maximus, unto whom with other countries the Province Britaine befell, stamped this peece while his Father lived. For hee is called only nobilis Caesar , a title that was wont to be given to the Heires apparent, or elect Successours of the Empire. By the edifice thereon, and these words, PROVIDENTIAE CAESS. we understand that he, together with his brother, built some publike worke, like as by these letters P. LON that this peece of mony was coined at London.

12. [XX] This coine carrying the inscription, Dominus noster Magnentius Pius Foelix Augustus, may seeme to have been stamped by Magnentius, who had a Britan to his father: as also win the favour of Constantius, after he had put to flight some publike enemie. For, these characters DD. NN. AVGG., that is, Our Lords Augusti, do argue that there were then two Augusti, or Emperours, And as for that inscription VOTIS V. MVLTIS X it betokeneth that the people at that time did nuncupate [profess] their vowes in these terms, That the Emperour might flourish 5 yeeres , and by dupling the said number of 5 with lucky acclamations praied for many 10 yeres. And hereto accordeth that speech in the Panegyrick oration of Nazarus, as followeth: The Quinquenniall feasts and solemnities of the most blessed and happy Caesars hold us wholly possessed with joyes; but in the appointed revolutions of ten yeeres, our hastning vowes and swift hopes have now rested. The letters P. AR. doe shew that this denier was stamped at Arelate.

[XXI] Constantius having defeated Magnentius, and recovred Britain, in honour of his armie caused this to be stamped. The letter R in the basis thereof importeth haply that it came out of the mint which was at Rome.

[XXII] In honour of Valentinian, when he had set upright againe the state of Britaine which was falling to ruine, and called that part of it by him thus recovered after his owne name Valentia, this peece was coined at Antiocha, as may be gathered out of the small letters underneath.

[XXIII] Unto the denier of Gratianus, I can thinke of nothing to say more, save onely that which erewhile I noted upon that of Magnentius.

[XXIIII , XXV, XXVI] What time as Magnus Maximus was by the British armie created Augustus, and his son likewise Flavius Victor named Caesar, to grace and glorifie that souldiers were these peeces coined: and Theodosius having subdued and made them away, for the very same cause stamped that with this, VIRTVTE EXERCITVS.

[XXVII] Upon that golden peece of Honorius, I have nothing to observe, but that by this inscription, AVGGG. there were at the same time 3 Augusti: namely after the yeere of grace 420, when as Honorius ruled as Emperor in the west, Theodosius the yonger in the east, and with them Constantius, by Honorius nominated Augustus, who had vanquished our Constantine, elected in hope of that fortunate name. As for that inscription CONOB, it signifieth that it was fine and pure gold, stamped at Constantinople. For that same CONOS is no where red, so farre as ever I cold hitherto observe, but in peeces of gold, for CONSTANTINOPOLI OBRIZUM.

13. I could annex hereunto many more peeces of Roman mony, for infinit store of them is every where found among us in the ruins of cities and towns subverted, in treasure-coffers, or vaults hidden in that age, as also in funeral-pots and pitchers. And how it came to passe that there should remain stil so great plenty of them I much marvelled, until I had red in the Constitutions of Princes that it was forbidden to melt such ancient coines.

Having now alreadie represented these antike peeces, as well of British as Roman mony in their own formes, I thinke it also profitable for the Reader to insert in this verie place a chorographicall table or mappe of Britaine (seeing it hath sometime been a Province of the Romanes), with the ancient names pf places: and although the same be not exact and absolute (for who is able to performe that?), yet thereby a man may learne thus much, if nothing else, that in this round Globe of the earth, there is daily some change: new foundations of townes and cities are laid; new names of people and nations arise, and the former utterly be abolished: and, as that poet said:

Why fret should we that mortall men to death doe subject lie?
Examples daily shew that townes and cities great may die.


WHEN as Britain now was abandoned of the Romane garrisons, there ensued an universall and utter confusion, full of wofull miseries and calamities, what with barbarous nations of the one side making incursions and invasions, what with the native inhabitants raising tumultuous uprores on the other, whiles every man catcheth at the government of State, Thus, as Ninnius writeth, They lived in feare 40 yeeres or thereabout. For Vortigern, then King, stood in great dread of the Picts and Scots. Troubled sore also hee was with the violence of Romans that remained there, and no lesse stood he in feare of Ambrosius Aurelius or Aurelianus, who during the conflict of these tempestuous troubles, wherein his parents who had worne the Imperiall purple robe were slaine, survived them. Hereupon the Saxons, whom Vortigern had called foorth of Germany to aid him, made bloody and deadly war against those friends that invited and entertained them: insomuch as after many variable and doubtfull events of war they wholy disseised [deprived] the poore wretched Britans of the most fruitfull part of the Iland, and their ancient native seat and habitation.

2. But this most lamentable ruine and downfall of Britain Gildas the Britan, who lived within a little while after, all ful of teares shall with his piteous pen depaint or deplore rather unto you: As the Romanes were returning , quoth he, to their own home, there shew themselves avie out of their carroghes [vales], whereover they passed over the Scoticke vale and, as it were, in high noone-Sunne and in fervent heat, issuing from out of most narrow holes and caves, whole swarmes of duskish vermin, to wit, a number of hideous high-land Scots and Picts in flocks, for maners and conditions in some respect different, but sorting well enough in one and the same greedy desire of bloodshed: who having intelligence that the Roman associats and Maintaners of the Britans were returned home with utter disclaiming and renouncing of all returne, more confidently than their usuall manner had been, seise into their hands all the Northern and utmost part of the land, and hold the same (as naturall inborne inhabitants) even as far as the wall. Against these attempts opposed there was and placed upon an high fort and castle along the wall a garrison nothing war-like, unfit for fight, with quaking hearts and altogther unmeet for service: which warding there day and night became lazie with doing nothing. Mean while, no stay there was, but those bare naked enemies approched the forts and wall with hooked weapons and engines, wherewith the most miserable people were plucked from the walles and dashed against the hard ground. This good yet did this maner of hasting untimely death unto those that by such means were speedily rid out of the world, in that by so quicke a dispatch they escaped and avoided the wofull imminent calamities of their brethren and deare children. To be short, having abandoned their Cities and quit that high-wall, once again they took them to flight and were dispersed anew, in more desperate maner than before time. Sembably, the enemies follow hard in chase, and hasten to make fouler havock and more cruell butcherie of them. Like therefore as Lambs by bloody butchers, so are these wofull inhabitants quartred and mangled by their enemies: insomuch as their abode among them might well bee compared to the ravening of wild and savage beasts. For not only the poore and wretched people themselves forbeare not to rob one another for their short sustenance of small food, but also those hostile outward miseries and calamities were augmented with inward tumults and troubles; in that by these and such like pillages and spoiles practised so thick, the whole country was exhaust of victuals, the staffe and strength of life, save only the small comfort that came by hunting. Whereupon the distressed remains of them send their missive letters again unto Aetius, a power-able man in the Romane state, in this tune:


The Barbarians drive us backe to the sea,
the sea again putteth us backe upon Barbarians. Thus between
two kinds of death, either our throats be cut, or we are drowned.

3. Yet obtaine they no succour at all for those their distresses. Meane while in this wandring and declining condition of theirs, most notorious and horrible famine oppresseth them, which forced many of them without delay to yeeld themselves into the hands of those cruell spoilers and robbers, that they might have some food (were it never so little) to comfort and refresh their poore hungry soules. But with others it never wrought so much but they chose rather to withstand and rise against them continually, from out of the very mountaines, caves and thick woods, full of bushes, briers and brambles. And then verily at the first they gave sundry overthrowes with much slaughter to their enemies for many yeers together (as they made spoile and drave away booties in the land), reposing their trust not in Man, but in God, according to that saying of Philo, The helpe of God is at hand when Mans helpe faileth. Thus for a while rested our enemies from their boldnesse; but yet our countrimen gave not over their wickednesse. The enemies, I say, retired from the people, but the people did not retire themselves from their wickednesse. For an usuall maner it ever was of this nation (like as it is at this day also) to shew themselves feeble in repressing the enemies forces, but strong enough in civill wars, and to undergoe the burdens of sinne &. Well then, these shameless Irish ravenours returne home, minding shortly after to make repaire hither againe, and the Picts rested without molestation then first, and so from thencefoorth in the utmost part of the Province, yet not without wasting and harrying the country at sundry times. By meanes therfore of such surcease of hostility, the desolate peoples sore of famin was healed up clean and skinned, but another more virulent than it secretly bred and brake forth. For in the time that the Iland was free from hostile wasting, there hapned in it so fruitfull plenty and abundance of all things, as the like no age before had ever remembred: and therewith groweth evermore all maner of riot and excesse. For so mightily it encreased and same to so great an head, that very fitly at the same time it might be said, Certainly it is heard that there is such fornication as the like is not among the Gentiles. And not this sinne only was rife, but all others also that are incident to Man' s nature: and especially (which likewise at this very day overturneth the state of all goodnesse in it) the hatred of Truth and the maintainers thereof, the love also of lies with the forgers thereof, the admitting of evill for good, the respective regard of leaudnesse in stead of goodnesse, desire of darknesse in lieu of the Sun-light, and accepting of Satan for an Angell of light. Kings were anointed not by God, but by such as were known more cruell than the rest: and soon after, the same were murdered by their own anointers, without due examination of the truth, and others more fierce and cruell elected. Now if any one of these Kings seemed mild than other and somewhat better inclined to the Truth, upon him as the subverter of Britain the hatred and spitefull darts of all men without respect were levelled and shot. No difference made they of any thing that they took displeasure at, but things waighed all in equal balance, saving that the better things indeed wrought ever discontent: in so much as right justly the saying of the Prophet which was denounced unto that people in old time might be applied unto our country, Yee lawlesse and corrupt children have forsaken the Lord and provoked unto wrath the holy one of Israel. Why should ye be smitten any more, still multiplying iniquity? Every head is sicke, and every heart is heavy. From the sole of the foot unto the crown of the head there is nothing sound therein. Thus did they all things that were contrary to their safety, as if no physicke or medicine had been bestowed upon the world by the true physitian of all. And not only the secular or layman did this, but also the selected flocke of the Lord and the shepheards thereof, who ought to have given example to the whole people. To speake of drunkennesse, numbers of them drenched, as it were, with wine, lay benummed and senseless: possessed they were with swelling pride, and therewith stomackfull, given to contentious brawles, armed with the catching clawes of envie, and undiscreet in their judgement, as putting no difference between good and evill. Insomuch as, apparently (even as now a daies) it seemed that contempt was powred foorth upon the Princes, and the people were seduced by their vanities and error in by-paths and not led the right way. In the meane time, when God was minded to purge His family and to recure it thus infected with so great corruption of sinnes, by hearesay only of tribulation, the winged flight (as one would say) of an headlesse rumor pierceth the attentive eares of all men, giving notice of ancient enemies ready to arrive, and upon their comming fully minded to destroy them utterly, and after their wonted maner to possesse and inhabite the country from one end to another. Yet for all this were they never the better, but like unto foolish and senseless horses, resisting the bridle of reason, and refusing to admit the bit (as they say) into their close-shut mouth, leaving the way to salvation, narrow thought it were, ran up and downe at random all the broad way of all wickednesse which leadeth directly and readily to death. Whiles therefore, as Salomon saith, the obstinate and stubborne servant is not amended with words, scourged hee is for a foole, and feeleth not the whip. For lo, a pestilent contagion bringing much mortality falleth heavily upon the foolish people; which in a short space, when the enemies sword was gone, destroied so great a multitude of tem, as that the living were not able to bury the dead. Neither verily were they the better for it, that the saying of Esay the Prophet might in them also be fulfilled: And God called them, quoth he , to sorrow and mourning, to baldnesse and sackecloth, but behold, they fell to killing of calves, to slaying of rams. Lo, they went to eating and drinking, and said withall, Let us eat and drinke, for to morrow we shall die. And why? The time drew neere wherein their iniquities, like as those in times past of the Amorites, should come to the fulnesse. For they fall to consult what was the best and most convenient course to be taken for to represse so cruell and so many invasions of the forenamed nations, with the booties which they raised. Then all the Counsellors together with the proud tyrant become blinded and bewitched, devising such a protection, nay a destruction rather of their country as this, namely, that those most fierce Saxons, a people foully infamous, odious both to God and man, should be let into this Iland, as one would say, wolves into the sheep-folds, to repulse, forsooth, and beat backe the Northren nations. Than which, I assure you, nothing was ever devised and practised more pernicious, nothing more unhappy unto this land. O mist of sense and grossest understanding that ever was! O desperate dulnesse and blind blockishnesse of mind! Those whom in their absence they were inclined and given to dread more than very death, now of their own accord these foolish Princes of Aegypt intertained, as I may say, under the roofe of one house, giving (as hath been said) fond-foolish counsell unto Pharao.

4. Then rushed foorth out of the barbarous Lionesses den a Kennel of whelpes in three Vessels, called in her language cyulae, that is, Keels, and in our Latine tongue longae naves, under full saile, caried with the wind of lucky sure-presaging auguries, whereby fore-prophesied it was unto them that for 300 yeeres they should possesse and hold that land as their country, unto which they directed their course: and for an hundred and twenty, that is, the one moity of the said space, oftentimes wast and depopulate the same. These being put on shore first in the East part of the Iland, and that by commandement of this infortunate tyrant, set fast their terrible pawes and clawes there, pretending unto the Ilanders defence of their country, but more truely intending the offence thereof: unto which whelpes, the forsaid dam, the Lionesse, finding that their first setting foot and marching forward sped well, sends likewise a greater rabble of worrying freebutters, which being arrived here in Flotes [fleets] conjoined themselves with the former misbegotten crew. From hence it is that the shoot-grifts of iniquity, the root of bitternes, and virulent plants due to our deserts sprout and put foorth in our soile proud bud, branch and leafe. Well, these barbarous Saxons, thus admitted into the Iland, obtaine allowance of victuals and wages, as for douty souldiers, and such as would endure hard service and much hazard (for so they falsly bare men in hand) in defense of their good hosts and friends, for their kind intertainment. Which being given unto them a long time stopped (as we say) the dogs mouth. Howbeit afterward they complaine that their monthly wages was not well paid them, devising of purpose colourable occasions of quarrell, protesting and threatning, that unlesse they might feele more munificence powred and heaped upon them, they would with the breach of covenant spoile and wast the whole Iland thorowout. And without further delay they second these threats with very deeds (for the cause of deserved revenge for praecedent wickednesse, was still nourished): the fire, kindled and set a flaming by these prophane men from sea to sea, ceased not to consume all the cities and countreys bordering thereabout, until such time as, burning well neere all the inland soile of the Iland, it licked up with a red flaming and terrible tongue all unto the western Ocean. In this violent furious invasion, comparable to that of the Assyrians in old time against Iuda, is fulfilled also in us (according to the historie) that which the Prophet by way of sorrowfull lamentation uttereth: They have burnt with fire thy Sanctuarie, they have polluted in the Land the tabernacle of thy name. And againe, O God, the Gentiles are come into thine heritage, they have defiled thy holy temple, &. in such wise as all the Colonies by the force of many engines, and all the Inhabitants together with the Praelates of the Church, both Priests and People, by drawne sword glittering on every side, and crackling flame of fire, were at once laid along on the ground; yea, and that which was a pitious spectacle to behold, in the mids of the streets the stone workes of turrets and high walles, rent and torne in sunder from aloft the sacred altars, and quarters of carcases (covered with imbossed workes of imagerie) of a bloudy hue, were seene all blended and mixed together (as it were) in a certaine horrible wine-presse, neither was there any Sepulcher at all abroad, save onely the ruins of buildings, and the bowels of wilde beasts and fowles.

5. When we shall read these reports, let us not be offended and displeased with good Gildas, for his bitter invectives against either the vices of his own countreymen the Britans, or the inhumane outrages of the barbarous enemies, or the insatiable crueltie of our Fore-fathers the Saxons. But since that for so may ages successively ensuing, we are all now by a certain engraffing or commixtion become one nation, mollified and civilized with Religion and good Arts, let us meditate and consider both what they were, and also what we ought to be: lest that for our sinnes likewise the supreame Ruler of the world either translate other nations hither, when wee are first rooted out, or incorporate them into us, after we are by them subdued.


DURING this most wofull, desperate, and lamentable tempestuous season, some poore remaines of Britans, being found in the mountaines, were killed up by whole heapes; others, pined with famine, came and yeelded themselves unto the enemies, upon composition to serve them as Bond-slaves for ever, so they might not be killed out of hand, which was reputed a most high favour, and especiall grace. There were also that went over sea into strange lands, singing under their spred sailes with a howling and wailing note, in stead of the Mariners Celeusma [rhythmic chant], after this manner: "Thou hast given us (o Lord) as sheepe to be devoured, and scattered us among the heathen." Others againe remained still in their owne countrey, albeit in fearefull estate, betaking themselves (but yet continually suspecting the worst) to high steepe hilles and mountaines intrenched, to woods and thicke growen forrests, yea to the rockes of the sea. Of those who passed beyond-sea, do doubt were they who for to save their lives, went over in great number to Armorica in France, and were kindly received of the Armoricans. That this was true, besides the communitie of language (the same in maner with that of our Britans) and to say nothing of other authors, who all accord in this point, hee who lived neerest unto that age, and was borne even in Armorica, and wrote the life of S. Wingualof the Confessor, sufficiently doth proove. An off-spring , saith he, of the Britans embarked in Flotes, arrived in this land, on this side the British sea, what time as the barbarous nation of the Saxons, fierce in armes and uncivill in manners, possessed their native and mother-soile. Then, I say, this deare of-spring seated themselves close within this nooke and secret corner. In which place they, being wearied with travaile and toile, sat quiet for a while without any warres. Howbeit, our writers report that our Britans long before this time setled themselves in this coast. For he of Malmsburie writeth thus: Constantinus Maximus, being saluted by the Armie Emperour, having proclaimed an Expedition into the higher lands, brought away a great power of British souldiers, through whose industry and forward service, having obtained triumphant victories to his hearts desire, and attained to the Empire: such of them as were past service, and had performed the painfull parts of souldioury their full time, he planted in a certaine part of Gaule westward upon the verie shore of the Ocean, where at this day their posteritie remaining are wonderfully grown even to a mightie people, in maners and language somewhat degenerate from our Britans. And true it is that Constantine gave commandements in this wise: Let the old souldiers according to our Precept enter upon the vacant lands, and hold them for ever freely. Ninnius likewise: Maximus, the Emperor who slew Gratian, would not send home againe those souldiers which he had levied out of Britaine, but gave unto them many countreys, even from the poole or Mere which lieth above Mont-Iovis unto the citie that is called Cantguic, and unto Cruc-occhidient. And he that hath annext briefe notes upon Ninnius fableth besides in this manner: The Armorican Britons which are beyond-sea, going forth from hence with Maximus the tyrant in his expedition, when as they could not returne, wasted the west parts of Gaule, even to the verie bare soile: and when they had maried their wives and daughters, did cut out all their tongues, for feare lest the succeeding progenie should learne their mother-language. Whereupon we also call them in your tongue lhet vydion, that is, half silent or tongue-tied, because they speake confusedly. The authoritie of these writers herein I cannot in any wise contradict, yet I am of opinion rather, that the children of those old souldiers gladly afterward received these Britans that fled out of their country. Neverthelesse, the name of Britans in this tract I find not in all the writers of that age, before such time that the Saxons came into our Britain, unlesse it be of those whom Plinie seemeth to place in Picardie, and who in some copies are named Brinani . For if any man out of the fourth book of Strabo his Geographie doe with Volaterrane thinke that Britaine was a citie of Gaule, let him but looke into the Greeke Booke, and he will soone inform himselfe that he spake of the Iland Britaine, and not of a citie. As for that verse out of Dionysius which before I have alleaged, some would rather understand it with Stephanus of our Britans, than with Eustathius of the Armoricans, especially seeing that Festus Avienus, a writer verily of good antiquitie, hath translated it thus:

Britane the North-west winds too neare,
And yellow haired Germanie her front doth forward beare.

Neither let any man think that the Britannicians mentioned in the book Notitia came from hence, who in truth were certaine cohorts onely of souldiers enrolled out of this our Britaine.

2. Before the arrivall of our Britans, this countrey was at first called Armorica , that is, situate by the sea side: and afterwards in the same sense, Llydaw in the British tongue, that is, Coasting upon the sea, and thence in Latine by our writers living the middle age Letavia . From whence, I suppose, were those Leti whom Zosimus nameth in Gaule, when he noteth that Magnentius the Tyrant was borne among the Lati in France, and had a Britan to his father. These Armoricans, when as that Constantine elected for the names sake became Emperor, and the barbarous nations over-ran Gaul, having cast out the Romane garrisons, instituted a common-wealth among themselves. But Valentian the younger by the meanes of Aetius, and at the intercession of Saint German, reclaimed them to allegeance. At which very time, it seemeth that Exuperantus governed them. Of whom Claudius Rutilius writeth thus:

Whose Sire Exuperantius the coasts to sea that reach
Now after discontinuance long in love of peace doth teach:
He sets the lawes again in force, reduceth liberty,
And suffereth them unto his folke no more as slaves to be.

Out of which verses, I wot not whether Aegidius Maserius hath made some collection [conjecture], when he wrote that the Britans were servants under the Armoricans and against them erected a freedome. The first mention to my knowledge of Britons in Armorica, was in the yeer of our salvation 461, about the thirtieth yeere after that the Anglo-Saxons were called out of Germany into our Britain. For then Mansuetus, a Bishop of the Britans, amongst other Bishops of France and Aremorica, subscribed to the first Councell of Tours. In the ninth yeere after, these new inhabitants of France, seeing the West-Gothes to seize into their hands the most fertile territories of Anjou and Poictu, encountred them, and were a bar that the Gothes possessed not themselves all of France. For they sided with Anthemius the Romane Emperor against the Gothes, so far foorth that Aruandus was condemned for treason, because in his letters sent unto the King of the Gothes, he had given counsell to set upon the Britons dwelling over the river Loire, and to divide France betweene the Goths and Burgundians. These Britans were a kind of people witty and subtile, warlike, tumultuous, and in regard of their valor, number and association stubborne, in which termes Sidonius Apollinaris complaineth of them unto Riothimus his friend, for so himselfe calleth him (but Jornandes nameth him King of the Britans), who afterward being sent for by Anthemius came with a power of 12 thousand men to aid the Romans, but before that they joined with them, being with his own forces vanquished in open field by the Gothes, hee fled unto the Burgundians confederate with the Romans. From that time the native Armoricans being by little and little subdued, the name of the Britons in these parts where they were newly seated grew so great that generally all the inhabitants passed by little and little into the name of Britans: like as this whole tract was called Britannia Armorica , and of the FranknersBritannia Cismarina , that is, Britain on this side the sea: and thereupon J. Scaliger versified thus:

The nations Aremorican stout Britain overcame,
And with the yoke of servitude gave them her ancient name.

3. For they turned the edge of their weapons upon those their friends that gave them entertainment, as appeareth evidently both by other testimonies, and also by these words of Regalis Bishop of Vennes as touching himselfe and his: We living , saith he, in captivity under the Britans are subject to a grievous and heavy yoke. Moreover, in the times succeeding, they couragiously maintained themselves and their estates, first under pety Kings, afterwards under Counts and Dukes against the French, albeit, as Glaber Rodophus writeth, Their only wealth was immunity from paiments to the publike Treasury, and plenty of milke. Also 500 yeeres since, William of Malmesbury wrote thus of them: A kind of people they are needy and poore in their own country; otherwise also with forain mony waged, and purchasing a laborious and painfull life. If they be well paid, they refuse not so much as to serve in civill war one against another without all regard of right or kinred, but according to the quantity of mony readie with their service for what part soever you would have them.


THE rest of the Britans, who, pitifully distressed in their own native country were put to seek for their country, were overlaied with so great calamities as no man is able sufficiently to expresse according to the nature of such horrible particulars, as being not only molested grievously by the Saxons, Picts and Scots, who made cruell war upon them far and neere, but also opressed under the proud and intollerable rule of wicked tyrants in all places. Now, who those tyrants were and of what quality about the yeere of our Lord 500, have here in a few words out of Gildas, who then lived and was an eiewitnesse. Constantine a tyrant among the Danmonii, albeit he had sworne in expresse words before God and the company of holy Saints that he would performe the office of a good Prince, yet in two Churches under the sacred vesture of an Abbat slew two children of the blood royall, together with their Fosters, two right valiant men; and many yeeres before having put away his lawfull wife, was foulie defiled with a number of foule filthie adulteries.

Aurelius Conanus, wallowing in the mire of Parricidies and adulteries, hating the peace of his countrie, is left alone as a tree withering in the open field: whose father and brethren were with a wild, youthfull and overweening phantasie carried awaie , and by untimely death surprised.

Vortiporius tyrant of the Dimetae, the ungracous sonne of a good father, like to a Panther in maners, so variably spotted with vices of divers sorts, when his head was now waxen hoary and gray, sitting in his throne full of craft and guile, and the same difiled with Paricidies or murthers of his owne kinred, and with adulteries beside, cast off his own wife (and filthily abused her daughter unawares and unwitting), yea and tooke also her life away.

Cuneglasus, in the Roman tongue lanio fulvus, that is, the Lion-tawney Butcher, a beare sitting and riding upon many, the driver of tht chariot which holdeth the Beare, a contemner of God, an oppresser of the Clergie, fighting against God with grievous sinnes, and warring upon Man with materiall armour and weapons, turned away his wife, provoked the Saints and holy men with manifold injuries, proudly conceited of his owne wisdome, and setting his hope in the uncertaintie of riches.

Maglocunus, Dragon of the Isles, the deposer of many Tyrants out of Kingdome and life both, the most forward in all mischiefe, for power and malicious wickednes together greater than many more, a large giver, but a more prodigall and profuse sinner, stronger in armes, higher also than all the Potentates of Britaine, as well in roiall dominion as in the stature and lineaments of his person. In his youthfull daies with sword and fire he brought to destruction his Uncle by the mothers side (being then King), togeher with many right hardy and redoubted servitours. After that phantasie of a violent course of rule according to his desire was gone, upon a remorse of conscience for his sinnes, vowed to be a professed Monke: but soone after returning to his vomit, breaking the said vow of Monkes profession, he despised his first marriage,and became enamoured upon the wife of his brothers sonne, whiles he was living; the said brothers sonne, and his owne wife (after hee had kept her for a certaine time) he murthered, and then maried that brothers sonnes wife, whom he before had loved. But I must leave the reports of these things to Historie writers, who hitherto have falsely set down that these tyrants succeeded one after another, wheras in truth, as we may perceive by Gildas, who speaketh unto them severally and personally one by one, they all at once and the very same time usurped tyranny in divers quarters of the Iland.

2. And now to returne: he residue of Britans remaining alive withdrew themselves into the westerne parts of the Iland, naturally fenced with mountaines and inlets of the sea, to those parts (I meane) which now we call Wales and Cornewall. The Inhabitants of the one the Saxons named Britweales , of the other Cornweales , like as in Gaule Galweales . For walsh with them signifieth strange and forraine, whence also the Wallons in the Low Countreys and the Vallachians upon the river Dunow [Danube] had their names. The Britwales or Welchmen, a verie warlike nation, for many yeeres defended their libertie under Petie-kings: and albeit they were secluded from the English Saxons by a Ditch or Trench which King Offa cast (a wonderfull peece of worke), yet otherwhiles by fire and sword they spoiled their cities, and in like sort suffered at their hands all extremities of hostilitie whatsoever. At the length in the raigne of Edward the First, as he writeth of himselfe, The Divine providence which in the owne dispose is never deceived, among other good gifts dispensed by it, and with which it hath vouchsafed our Kingdome of England to be adorned, hath converted now full, wholly, and entierly (of her good grace) the Land of Wales with the Inhabitants thereof (subject before time unto us by fealtie and service) into our proper dominion, and without any let or barre whatsoever, hath annexed and united it unto the Crowne of the foresaid Realme, as part of one and the same bodie politike. Howbeit in the age next ensuing, they could no way bee induced to undergoe the yoke of subjection, neither could the quarrels by any means possibly be taken up, nor the most deadly hatred betweene the two nations extinguished, untill that King Henry the Seventh, who descended of them, assisted the oppressed Britans with his gratious hand, and King Henry the Eight admitted them unto the same condition of Lawes and Liberties that the English enjoy. Since which time, yea and very often also before, the Kings of England have had triall of their constant fideltie and loiall alleageance. As for those Cornwallians, although they stoutly bent all their force together in defence of their Countrey, yet soone became they subject to the Saxons, as who neither matched then in number, neither was their Countrey sufficiently fenced by nature to defend them.

3. Let this suffice that hath been said touching the Britans and Romans; but since we treat of the Inhabitants, we may not in this place omit (altough we have heretofore spoken thereof already) that which Zosimus reporteth, how that Probus the Emperour sent over into Britaine the Vandals and Burgundians whom he had overcome, who having seated themselves here, stood the Romans in good stead, as oft as any one raised tumult and sedition. But where they were planted I know not, unless it were in Cambridge shire. For Gervase of Tilbury maketh mention of an ancient rampier or hold in that shire, which he calleth Vandelsbury, and saith it was the worke of the Vandals.

Neither let any man surmize that in the daies of Constantius the Poeni [Phoenicians] had their abode here grounding upon these words of Eumenius the Rhetorician, Except perhaps no greater ruine had fallen upon Britaine, and borne it downe, than if it had been drenched thorout, and overwhelmed with the over-flowing of the Ocean: which being delivered from the most deepe gulfe [Poenorum], began to appeare and shew it selfe at the view and sight of the Romanes. For in the old Copie belonging sometime to Humfrey Duke of Glocester, and afterwards to the right honourable Baron Burghly, Lord high Treasurere of England, we read poenarum gurgitibus, that is, The gulfes of punishments, and not Poenorum gurgitibus. For he seemeth to speake of the calamites and miseries wherewith Britaine was afflicted under Carausius.

Whereas Agathias in the second booke of his Histories hath these words, Hunnica natio Britones sunt , that is, the Britons are a nation of the Hunnes , I would have no man hereby raise a slander upon the Britans, or thinke them to bee issued from the savage cruell Hunnes. For long since Francis Pithaeus, a verie learned man, hath averred unto me, and now of late I. Lewenclaius, a right worthy Historian, published in writing that ina Greek Copie it is read ????????, and not Britones.


NOW let us come to the other Inhabitants of Britaine, and first unto the Picts, whom for Antiquitie next after Britans, the Historiographers have accounted the second. Hector Boetius deriveth these from the Agathyrsi; Pomponius Laetus, Aventinus and others from the Germans; some from the Pictones in France, and Beda from the Scythians. It hapned , saith he, that the nation of the Picts came in long ships, and those not many, out of Scythia (as the report goeth into Ireland; and of the Scots whom they found there, requested (but in vaine) a place of habitation: by whose perswasion they went into Britaine and inhabited the Northerne parts thereof, and that was about the yeere of our Redemption (as many would have it) 78.

2. I for my part, in so great a varietie of opinions, know not which I should follow; yet (that I may speake what I suppose to be true, and deliver mine owne judgement) were it not that in this point the authoritie of venerable Beda did over-weigh all the conjectures of others, I would thinke that the Picts came from no other place at all, but were verie naturall Britans themselves, even the right progenie of the most ancient Britans: those Britans, I meane, and none other, who before the comming in of the Romans, were seated in the North part of the Iland, and of those who afterwards, casting off the yoke of bondage (as they are a nation most impatient of servilitie), repaired unto these in the North. Like as when the Saxons over-ran the Isle, those Britans which would not forgoe their libertie conveied themselves into the Westerne parts of the Iland, full of craggie hils, as Wales and Cornwall: even so, doubtlesse, when the Roman warre grew hot, the Britans, lest they should undergoe servitude (which is of all miseries the extreamest) gat them into these Northern parts, frozen with the bitter cold of the aire, full of rough and rugged passages, and full of washes and standing meeres. Where being armed not so much with weapons, as with a sharpe aire and climate of their owne, they grew up together with the native inhabitants whom there they found, unto a mightie and populous nation. For Tacitus reporteth that the enemies of the Romans were by his wives father Agricola driven into this part, as it were into another Iland: and no man doubteth, but Britans they were which inhabited these remotest parts of the Iland, For shall wee dreame that all those Britans, enemies to the Romans, which brought out thirtie thousand armed men into the field against Agricola, who gave unto Severus so great overthrowes, that of Romans and Associates he lost in one expedition and journey 70000, were killed up every mothers sonne, and none left for seed and procreation, that they might give roome unto forrainers out of Scythia and Thracia? So farre am I from beleeving this, although Beda hath written so much by relation from others that I would rather affirme they were so multiplied that the verie soile was not able either to releeve or receive them, and were enforced therefore to over-flow and overwhelme, as it were, the Romane Province, which came to passe wee know afterwards, when the Scots came in unto them. But because Beda hath so written, as others in that time reported, I may easily bee brought to beleeve that some also out of Scandia, called in times past Scythia (as all the Northerne tract beside) came by the Isles that by a continued ranke lie betweene, unto those Northerne Britans.

3. Yet lest any man should imagine that I seeke to countenance a lie, carrying likelihood and probability of a trueth, me thinks I am able to proove that the Picts were very Britans indeed, by the demeanor, name and language of the Picts, wherein we shall see they agreed passing well with Britans.

And to let passe, among other reasons, that neither the Picts, according to Beda, nor the Britans, as Tacitus writeth, made any distinction of sex for government in chiefe, or excluded women from bearing scepter, that custome of painting and staining themselves with colours was common to both nations. As touching the britans, we have provided it before, and for the Picts Claudian proveth it for us, who writeth thus:

The Picts he tam' d,
So truly nam' d.

And in another place,

And doth peruse with eie
Those iron-brent marks in Picts well seene all bloudlesse, as they die.

Which Isidore doth shew more plainly: The Nation of the Picts (saith he) have a name drawne even from their bodies, for that by the artificiall pricking therein of small holes with a needle, the workman, wringing out the juice of greene grasse, encloseth the same within, that their Nobilitie and Gentry thus spotted, may carrie these scarres about them in their painted pownced [decorated by piercing] limmes, as badges to bee knowen by. Shall we thinke now that these Picts were Germans, who never used this maner of painting? Or the Agathyrsi of Thracia, so farre distant from hence; or rather the very Britans themselves, seeing they were in the selfsame Isle, and retained the same guise, and fashion of painting?

4. Neither are those barbarous people, who so long time made such incursions out of the Forrest Caledonia, and from that farthest Northern coast found the Romans work, other wise called than Britans of the ancient Writers Dio, Herodian, Vopiscus and others. Semblaby, Tacitus, who describeth at large the warres of Agricola his wives Father in this utmost coast of Britaine, calleth the inhabitants by no other name than Britans and Britans of Caledonia: whereas notwithstanding, our latter writers have recorded that the Picts, new comers thither, were arrived there ten yeeres before; a thing that I would have you to note, considering that Tacitus in that age knew not of them at all. Neither would those Romane Emperours, who warred fortunatly against them, to wit, Commodus, Severus, with Bassianus and Geta his sonnes, have assumed into their Stile that addition of Britannicus after they had vanquished them, unlesse they had beene Britans. Certes, if the Romanes, for whose magnificence every thing made that was strange, had subdued any other nation there beside the Britans, and the same before time unknowen (were they called Picts or Scots), they would (no doubt) have been knowen by the titles of Picticus and Scoticus in their coines and inscriptions. Tacitus ghesseth by their deep yellow bush of haire, and their large limmes, that they had their beginning out of Germanie: but straitwaies after, and more truely, hee attributeth all to the climate and posture of the heaven, which yeeldeth unto bodies their complexion and feature. Whereupon Vitruvius also writeth thus: Under the North Pole are nations bred and fostered, bigge and talle of bodie, of colour browne, with hair of head even and streight, and the same ruddie. In the like maner, that the Caledones (without all question Britans) were the selfe same nation that the Picts, the Panegyrick author after a sort doth intimate, writing thus: The woods of the Caledones, and of other Picts &, , as if the Caledones also had been none other but the Picts. And that those Caledonians were Britans borne, Martiall in this verse of his implieth:

Quint Ovide, Britans Caledon, thou that dost mind to see.

Ausonius likewise, who sheweth withall that they were pained, while he compareth their colour unto green mosse, distinguished with gravel between, in this wise:

Like to greene mosse with gravell rewes between,
The Britans Caledonian are all bepainted seen.

But as these for a long time were no otherwise known than by the name of Britans, and that by reason of their depainted bodies: so afterwards, about the time of Maximian and Dioclesian (neither before that find we the name of Picts in any writers), when Britaine had so long been a Province that the Inhabitants had learned the provinciall Latine tongue, then (as it seemeth) began they to bee called Picts for distinctions sake, that they might be known from them that were confederate with the Romanes, and called Britans. And whence should they bee called Picts, if it were not because they depainted themselves? Now if anyone there be, who beleeveth not that our Britans used the provincial Latin tongue, little knoweth he certainly how earnestly the Romans laboured that the Provinces might speake Latine, neither seeth he what a number of Latine words is crept into the British language: that I may not urge the authoritie of Tacitus, who saith that in Domitians time the Britans affected very much the eloquence of the Latine tongue. And as touching the name of Picts, the authoritie of Flavius Vegetius may soone cleere this doubt, who sheweth (after a sort) that the Britans used the word pict in the verie same sense, for a thing that is coloured, as the Latines doe. For he writeth that the Britans called those light Pinnaces of espiall [built for scouting] pictas , the sailes, gables and other tacklings whereof were died with a blew or watchet [woad] colour, like as the mariners and souldiers to them belonging, who were clad in blew apparrell. Surely if the Britans called Ships, for their sailes and tacklings stained with the said blew colour, pictas , what letteth [obstructs] but that they should call the people pict , who were painted with sundrie colours, and with blew especially, for that is the colour that woad giveth?

5.This also maketh for us, that the Northerne Picts, whom Saint Columbane, by preaching the Word and by his good example brought into Christianitie, are in the ancient English Annales named Brittas Peohtas , as one would say, British Picts.

The cause wherefore we draw not many proofes from the language is this, for that of the Picts tongue there can scarce one word bee gathered out of authors: yet it seemeth to bee the same as the British. Beda wrote, that the Romane wall made against the incursions of the Picts began in in a place which in the Picts language is called Penuahel, and pengwall among the Britans expresly signifieth the beginning or head of the wall. Moreover, thorowout all that tract of the Iland which the Picts held longest (and that was the East part of Scotland) the names of most places doe favour of a British originall: as example Morria, Marnia, for that they be countreys adjoyning to the sea, comming of the British word mor , that is sea. Aberden, Aberlothnet, Aberdore, Aberneith, that is, the mouth of Den, of Lothnet, of Dore and Neith, from the British word aber , which signifieth the mouth of a river. Strathbolgi, Strathdee, Strathhearn, that is The Dale or Vale of Bolgi, Dee, and Earne, comming from strath , which in the British tongue betokeneth a Valley. Yea, and the chiefe seat of the Picts doth acknowledge no other originall than a British, I mean Edenburgh, which Polemee calleth Castrum alatum , that is, The winged Castle . For aden in British is a wing. Neither wil I (by way of proofe) take hold of this argument, that some of the British petie Kings were called bridii , which is as much in the Britain language (as i have often said) as depainted. Out of these premises, verily, we may without any absurditie conclude that the Picts Language and the British differed not, and therfore the nations were not divers; howsoever Beda speaketh of the Picts and Britans tongues as if they were distinct one from the other, in which place he may be thought to have meant their sundrie Dialects.

6. Neither is there cause why any man should marvell that the Picts wrought so much mischiefe, and gave so many overthrowes unto their countrey-men the Britans, considering that we see at this day in Ireland those which are within the British pale have none so deadly foes unto them as their owne countrey-men, the wild Irish. For like as we read in Paulus Diaconus, the Gothes, Hypogothes, Gepidians, and Vandales, varying their names onely, and speaking one and the self-same language, encountred often times one another in open field with banner displayed, even so did the Picts and Britans, especially when as these Britans were become the Romane allies. These were the reasons, such as they be, that took hold of mee, and induced me in a maner to think the Picts a remnant of the Britains: but perhaps the authoritie of Beda weigheth downe all this, and therefore, if ye thinke so good, let the tradition of so reverend a man, grounded upon the relation of others, prevaile and take place before these conjectures.

7. These Picts Ammianus Marcellinus divideth into Dicalidonians and Vecturiones. I would rather read Deucalidonians , and doe thinke they were planted about the Westerne coasts of Scotland where the Deucalidonian Sea breaketh in. And albeit I have been of opinion that these were so called, as if a man would say Blacke Caledonians (for dee in the British tongue signifieth Blacke), like as the Irish now adaies terme the Scots of that tract Duf Allibawn , that is, Blacke Scots, and so the Britans called the rovers and pirats which out of these parts did much scath [harm] at sea, Yllu du , that is, the blacke armie, yet now, mee thinks wee may ghesse (for ghesses are free) that they tooke that name from their situation. For Deheu Caledonii betokeneth the Caledonians dwelling on the right hand, that is, Westward, like as the other Picts, who keep on the left hand, that is, Eastward, which Ninnius calleth the less side, were named Vecturions by a word haply drawn from chwithic , which in the British tongue signifieth Left; and these some thinke are corruptly called in Ptolomee Vernicones. An old Saxon fragment seemeth to give them the name of Pegweown , for so they terme an enemie-nation to the Britans; whereas the ancient Angles or English called the Picts themselves Pehits and Peohtas . And hereupon it is that we read everie where in Whitkindus Pehiti for Picti .

8. The maners of these ancient and barbarous Britans, who afterwards came to bee named Picts, I have heretofore described out of Dio and Herodian. It remaineth now that I goe on with my webbe and weave thus much into it: namely, that in the declining state of the Empire, when the Romanes, somewhat unadvisedly and without good forecast, enrolled cohorts of the Barbarians, certaine of these Picts (when all was in quietnesse and peace) were taken into the militarie service of the Romans by Honorius, and therefore termed Honoriaci , who under that tyrant Constantine (elected in hope of so fortunate a name), having set upon the fortified entries of the Pyraenean hils, let Barbarians into Spaine. In the end, when first by themselves, and afterwards combining with the Scots their confederats, they had afflicted the Roman Province, the began, though late it were, to waxe civill, those of the South were by Ninias or Ninianus the Britan, a most holy man, converted to Christ in the yeere of grace four hundred and thirtie. But they of the North, who were secluded from the Southerne by a continuall ridge of high craggie mountaines, by Columbanus a Scot of Ireland, a Monke likewise of passing great holinesse, in the yeere 565, who taught them, whence soever he learned it, to celebrate the feast of Easter between the fourteenth day of the Moone in March unto the twentieth, but alwaies upon the Lords day, as also to use another maner of tonsure, or shaving their heads, than the Romans did, to wit, representing the imperfect forme of a Coronet. About these ceremonies hard hold there was, and eager disputation for a long time in this Iland, until that Naitanus a King of the Picts brought his owne subjects with much adoe into the Romane observance. In which age very many Picts with great devotion, as the daies were then, frequented the Chapels and Shrines of Saints at Rome, and among others hee that is mentioned in the Antiquities of Saint Peters Church there, in these words, ASTERIVS COMES PICTORVM ET SYRA CVM SVIS VOTVM SOLVERE, that is, Asterius a Count or Earle of the Picts and Syra with their family performed their vowes. At length, by the Scots that infested them out of Ireland, they were made to stoop, and after so daunted, as that about the yere of our Lord 740, being vanquished in a most bloudy battell, they were either utterly extinct, or else by little and little quite passed into their Scotish name and nation. Which very same thing chanced to the most puissant Nation of the Gaules, who being subdued of the Frankes by little and little, were turned into their name and called with them Franci , that is, French.

9. Whereas the Panegyrick author giveth some inkling that Britaine before Caesars time used to skirmish with their enemies the Picts and Irish, halfe naked men , hee seemeth to speake after the maner of the time wherin he lived: but surely in those daies there were none knowen in Britaine by the name of Picts.

Also, whereas Sidonius Apollinaris in his Panegyrick to his wives Father poetically powred out these verses:

In traine of conquest Caesar still his ensignes even as farre
As Britaine Caledonian advanc' d: and though no barre
Staid him, but that the Scots and Picts, with Saxons he subdu' d, &.

I cannot chuse but with another Poet crie out in this wise:

These Poets love to over-reach,
Beleeve them not, when so they teach.

For Caesar, who is prodigall in his owne praise, would never have concealed these exploits, if hee had ever performed them. But these men seeme not unlike to those good, honest, and learned writers in our age, who whiles they patch together an historie of Caesar, write forsooth how hee subdued the Franks in Gaule and the English men in Britaine, whereas in those daies the names of English and French were not so much as heard of, either in the one or the other countrey, as who, many ages after, came into these Regions.

That the Pictones of Gaule and our Picts were both one nation, I dare not with Joannes Picardus avouch, seeing the name of the Pictones in Gaule was even in Caesars time verie rife and much spoken of, and for that our Picts were never caled Pictones: yet I am not ignorant how in one onely place of the Panegyrist among all the rest, through the negligence of the copier, there was foisted in Pictonum in stead of Pictorum .


AMONG the people of Britain, after Picts, the Scotish nation by good right challenge the next place: concerning whom, before I speak ought, for feare lest evill willers and forwardly peevish should calumniously misconstrue those allegations which I, simply, ingenuously, and in all honest meaning, shall heere cite out of ancient writers as touching Scots, I must certifie the Reader before hand, that everie particular hath reference to the old, true, and naturall Scots onely; whose of-spring are those Scots speaking Irish, which inhabite all the West part of the kingdome of Scotland, now so called, and the Ilands adjoyning thereto, and who now a-daies be termed High-land men. For the rest, which are of civill behaviour and be seated in the East part therof, albeit they beare now the name of Scotish-men, yet are then nothing lesse but Scots, but descended from the very same Germane originall that we English men are. And this nether can they chuse but confesse, nor we but acknowledge, being as they are termed by those abovesaid High-land men Sassones as well as we; and using as they doe the same language with us, to wit, the English-Saxon, different onely in Dialect, a most assured argument of one and the same originall. In which regard, so farre am I from working any discredit unto them, that I have rather respectively loved them alwaies, as of the same bloud and stocke, yea and honoured them too, even when the Kingdomes were divided: but now much more, since it has pleased our almightie and most mercifull God that wee growe more united in one bodie, under one most Sacred head of the Empire, to the joy, happiness, welfare, and safetie of both Nations, which I heartily wish and pray for.

2.The beginning and Eytmologie of the Scotish Nation, like as of other neighbor nations round about, are so full of obscuritie, and lie over-spred under the mist of darkenesse, in such sort that even Buchanan himselfe, though otherwise a man of a verie deepe insight, either hath seene little therein, or seene to himselfe alone: for in this point he hath come short of all mens expectation. Whereupon I have forborne a long time to take this enterprize in hand, lest with others, in admiring fables, I should full sweetly please my selfe, and fall into folly. For a man may with as great probability derive the Scots pedigree from the Gods as from Scota, that supposed and counterfeit daughter of the Aegyptian King Pharao, wedded (forsooth) unto Gaithelus, the sonne of Cecrops founder of Athens. Abut as this conceit, arising from the unskilfulnesse of Antiquitie, is of the better sort ingenuous Scots rejected: so that other opinion of later daies, drawen without all sense from a Greeke fountaine, that Scots should be so called, as it were, ????????, that is, obscure, I utterly disallow and condemne as a device of envious persons, to the slanderous reproch of a famous and valiant Nation. Neither doe all men like the derivation of our Florilegus , namely, that Scots were so called because they came of a confused mingle-mangle of divers nations. And yet I cannot but marvel whence Isidorus had this: The Scots (saith he) take their name in their owne proper tongue of their painted bodies, for that they are marked with sharpe yron pricks, and inke, and so receive the print of sundry shapes. Which also Rabanus Maurus in the very same words (doubtlesse out of him) doth testifie in his Geographie to Lodocivus Pius the Emperour, which is to be seene in the Librarie of Trinitie Colledge in Oxford.

3. But seeing that Scotland it selfe hath of her owne people such as might verie well fetch their beginning from the inmost record of Antiquity, and thereby best of all advance the glorie of their Countrey, in case they would wholly set their minds and bestow their carefull diligence for a time in this argument, I will point out only with my finger to the fountaines from whence haply they may draw the truth, and lay before them certaine observations which I would wish them to marke and consider more diligently: for my selfe will in this matter play the Skepticke, and affirme nothing. And first, touching their originall, and then of the place from whence they remooved and came over into Ireland. For certainely knowen it is that out of Ireland, an Ile inhabited in old time by Britans, as shall in due place be prooved, they passed into Britain, and what time as they were first known unto writers by this name, seated they were in Ireland. For Claudian the Poet hath written of their irruptions into Britaine, in these Verses:

What time the Scots all Ireland stir' d offensive armes to take,
And with maine stroke of enemies ores, the sea much fome did make.

And in another place:

And frozen Ireland heapes of Scots bewail'd with many a teare.

Orosius likewise writeth thus: Ireland is peopled with Scotish Nations . Gildas calleth Scots Irish Spoilers . And Beda, The Scots that inhabite Ireland, an Isle next unto Britaine , as also elsewere. Yea, and in the daies of the Charles the Great Eginhardus in expresse words calleth Ireland The Isle of Scots . Moreover, Giraldus Cambrensis: That the Scotish nation (saith he) is descended out of Ireland, the affinitie as well of their Language as of their apparell, of their weapons also, and of their maners even to this day doe sufficiently proove. But now to come unto the points which I would have the Scots thorowly to weigh.

4. For as much as they which are right and naturall Scots acknowledge not this name of Scots, but otherwise call themselves Gaoilthel, Gael , and Albin ; seeing also that verie many people have other names given unto them by their neighbours than they use themselves, whereby often times there is a secret light given unto nations of their descent, as for example the Inhabitants of the lower Pannonia, who terme themselves Magier , are in Dutch named Hungari , for that they first came of the Huns; they that border upon the Forrest Hercynia among themselves are called Czechi , but by others Bohaemi , because they descended from the Boii in Gaule; the inhabitants of Africke, who having also a peculiar name among themselves, are by the Spaniards termed Alarbes for that they be Arabians; the Irish, who call themselves Erinach , are by our Britans named Gwidhil . Considering also that as well those Irish and these our Britans gave no other name to us English men but Sassons , because wee are descended from the Saxons, I would have the learned Scotish men first to consider whether they might not bee so called of their neighbours, as one would say, Scythae . For even as the Flemings and other Netherlanders expresse by this one word, Scuttes , both the Sycthians and Scots, so it hath been observed out of our British writers that they named both Scythians and Scots Y-Scot . Ninnius also expresly calleth the Britans that inhabite Ireland Scythians, and the narrow sea thorow which they passed over out of Ireland into Britaine Gildas nameth Vallem Scythicam , that is, The Scythian Vale. For so hath the copie printed in Paris, where others without all sense read Stythicam Vallem . Moreover, King Alfred, who seven hundred yeeres past translated the Historie of Orosius into the English-Saxon tongue, turned Scotos into Scyttan , and our Countrey-men who dwell next to Scotland use to call them, not by the name of Scots, but Scyttes and Sceltes . For like as (Walsingham is mine author) the same people be called Getae, Getici, Gothi, Gothici , so from one and the same originall Scythae, Scitici, Scoti, Scotici , take their names.

5. But whether this name were imposed upon this nation by their neighbours in regard of Scythian maners, or because they came out of Scythia, let them here advise well upon it. Surely both Diodorus Siculus and also Strabo compare the first Britans inhabiting Ireland (which is the native countrey indeed of the wild Irish, and those that be right Scots) with the Scythians for their savage nature. Besides, they drinke bloud out of the wounds of men slaine: they establish leagues among themselves by drinking one anothers bloud; and suppose that the greater number of slaughters they commit, the more honour they winne: and so did the Scythians in old time. To this we may adde that these wild Scots, like the Scythians, had for their principall weapons bowes and arrowes. For Orpheus termeth Sycthians ??????????, even as Aelianus, and Julius Pollux saggitarios , that is, Archers. And learned me there be that thinke herupon both nations had this name given unto them, for their skill in shooting. Neither may this seeme strange, that divers nations carried the same names by occasion of the same maners: as they who have travailed all over the West Indies doe write that all strange and hardie men that doe so much mischiefe with bow and arrowes thorowout all India and the Iles thereof are by one name called Caribes, although they be of divers nations.

6. Now, that these Scots came out of Scythia the Irish Historiographers themselves doe report. For Nemethus the Scythian, and long after him Delas, one of Nemethus his progenie, that is, of the Scythian stocke, they reckon among the first Inhabitants of Ireland. Ninnius likewise, a Disciple of Elvodugus, hath plainly written thus: in the fourth age of the world (that space I meane which was betweene the building of Salomons temple and the captivitie of Babylon) the Scythians possessed themselves of Ireland. And hereto according the authoritie of latter writers, to wit, of Cisnerus in his preface to Cranzeius, and of Reinerus Reineccius, who writeth thus: The remaineth yet the nation of the Scots in Britaine, sprung from the Sycthians &. And yet I verily doubt, although the Getae were a Scythicke nation, whether the Poet Propertius meaneth those Irish of ours, in writing thus:

Both Irish Getes and Britaine with her painted chariot.

But the Scots should lose part of their honor and dignity, unlesse they bee brought out of Spaine into Ireland. For this both they themselves and their Historiographers labour to proove with all their might and maine; and good reason (I assure you) have they so to doe. Unlesse therefore wee find Scythians in Spaine, all our labour is lost. And that Scythians have been in Spaine (to say nothing of a promontorie or point among the Cantabri called Scythicum next unto Ireland, and how that Strabo writeth that the Cantabri and Scythians sorted well together in their deportment) Silius Italicus, a Spaniard borne, doth most plainely declare: for by these verses he sheweth that the Concani, a nation of Cantrabria, were begotten of the Massagetae, that is, Scythians:

And ye your Parents Massagets in fiercenesse that doe show,
Hight Concani, drinke horses blood, as it from veine doth flow.

And after some few verses between, he prooveth that the Sarmatae, whom all men confesse to have been Scythians, built the Citie Susana in Spaine, whiles hee singeth in this note:

Susana, with high Sarmatian wals.

Of these Sarmatians or Scythians, the Luceni, whom Orosius placeth in Ireland, seem to be descended (considering that the Spaniards themselves put Susana among the Lucensians of Spaine), like as of those Concani,the Gangani of Ireland. For the Lucensii and Concani in Cantabria were neighbour nations, even as the Luceni and Gargani in that coast of Ireland opposite to Spaine. Now if any man demaund of me what those Scythians were which came into Spaine, verily I know not, unlesse a man would thinke them to have been Germans. And I could wish that the Scots themselves would enter into a more serious and deepe consideration of this point. But that the Germans long agoe entred into Spaine, beside Plinie, who calleth the Oretani in Spaine Germans, Seneca, which was a Spaniard borne, will enforme us. The mountaine Pyrenaeus (saith he) stopped not the passage of the Germans; the levitie of men made shift to enter thorow places scant passable, and unknowen. And that the Germans were called Scythians, we gather not onely out of Ephorus and Strabo, who termed all the nations of the North Scythian, but also out of Plinie. The name of Scythians (quoth he) extendeth it selfe farre and wide every way, even to the Sarmatians and Germans. Aventinus also witnesseth that Germans were by the Hungarians called Scythae and Scythulae. And to derive descent from a Scythian stock cannot be thought any waies dishonourable, seeing that the Scythians, as they are most ancient, so they have been the Conquerours of most Nations, themselves alwaies invincible, and never subject to the Empire of others. Neither must we forget in this place that the Cauci and Menapii, ranged among the most famous Nations of Germanie, are by Ptolomee placed in Ireland under the same names, and in the verie same vicinity one to the other: so that by all likelihood they derived from the same Germans both their name and also their descent.

7. If the Scots have not their originall from these, I would they pondered with themselves whether they were not of those Barbarians who (as it is recorded in King Alphonsus his Chronicles) were by Constantine the Great driven out of Gallaecia in Spaine, for out of those parts, they will needs have it that they came into Ireland. If they demaund who those Barbarians were, I doubt not but they will bee of the same mind with me, that they were Germans. For during the raigne of Gallienus the Emperour, the Germans dwelling in the farthest parts (saith Orosius) of Germanie, spoiled and held Spaine in subjection , and who should those remote Germans bee unless they were meere [pure] Scythians? But Aurelius Victor, whom Andrew Schot hath published, calleth those Germans Frankes. But seeing those Frankes and Germanes inhabiting the farthest parts of Germanie, putting to sea from thence, sailed in their heat and furie farre into the Ocean, and, as Nazarius saith unto Constantine, greatly annoied and did much harme by these our seas, even to the Spanish coasts also, who will beleeve that they preferred the drie and barrein soile of Biscay before Ireland, an Ile most fruitful and fitly sited to endammage Spain? Nay rather, as in the time of Constantine the Great and afterwards, the Norvegians out of Scandia did often attempt and invade Ireland, yea, and seated themselves there, so we may with good probability conjecture that the Franks did the same before, and that they passed from hence into Spain, and after they were driven out by Constantius the Great, retired backe againe into Ireland. Credible likewise it is that more of them afterwards flocked thither, what time as the Vandals and Gothes depopulated Spain, and as barbarous nations warred among themselves and made havock of all: as also, when that storme of Saracens lay sore upon the Spaniards, and drave a great number of them into Gallitia and Biscay. But I leave these overtures unto others for to prie further into: let it be sufficient for me that I have been but willing only to remove this cloud out of the way.

8. But I beseech the learned Scots in this place to consider here how it commeth to passe that the Irish, being the ancient Forefathers and Progenitors of the Scots, yea and the Scots themselves, beare them highly of this, that they be called Gael and Gaiothel , and their language Gaothlac , as also why they named that part of Britaine which they first possessed Argathel? Whence can they say that these names sprang? From the Gallaeci in Spaine, from whom very man, no doubt, flitted over into Ireland, and whose beginning is fetched from the Gallatae or Galles? Or from the Goths, as some latter Writers are of opinion, who would have this word Gaiothel to proceed from the Gothes, as likely as Cathalonia did in Spaine? Here they should have drawn arguments from the affinitie between the Gothicke Language and the Irish: which notwithstanding, so farre as ever I could find, hath no resemblance at all to any other tongues in all Europe save only the Welch and the Dutch. How truely Henry Huntingdon writeth, The Scots came in the fourth age of the world out of Spaine into Ireland: and part of them who still remained there useth as yet the same Language, and are called Navarrians , how truly (I say) he hath delivered this, let others speake. And here I omit David Chambres the Scotish-man, who hath beene enformed by certaine Jesuits that the Scotish tongue is used in East India. I am afraid lest that countrey, so farre remote as it is, made the credulous man bold, not to make a lie, but to tell a lie.

9. But if arguments in this case may bee taken from the habite and apparell of the people, surely the array and clothing of the wild Scots at this day is all one with that of the Gothes in times past, as we may by and by perceive out of Sidonius Apollinaris, who in describing a Goth portraieth and depainteth unto us a wild Scot, as right as may be. They are (saith he) of a flaming deepe yellow, died with saffron; they buckle upon their feet a paire of Broges made of raw and untanned leather up to their ankles; their knees, thighes, and calves of their legs are all bare; their garments high in the necke, straight made and of sundry colours, comming skarce downe to their hammes; the sleeves cover the upper points of their armes and no more; their souldiers coats of colour greene, edged with a red fringe; their belts hanging downe from the shoulder; the lappets of their eares hidden under the curled glibbes and lockes of haire lying all over them. (For so a man may very rightly call the manifold branched and parted twists of haire which Scots and Irish weare), they use also hooked speares which Gildas termeth uncinata tela , and axes to fling from them. They wore likewise strait bodied coats (as saith Porphyrio) fitted close to their breasts, without girdles. If this be not for all the world the very right apparell of the wild Irish-Scots, let themselves be Judges. I would withall that they did consider these words of Giraldus Cambrensis, in his first booke of The Institution of a Prince: When Maximus (saith he) was passed out of Britaine into Gaule, with the whole power of men, forces, and armour that the Iland could make, and all to seize into his hands the empire, Gratian and Valentinian brethren, and partners in the Empire, shipped over these Gothes (a Nation hardy and valiant in feats of armes, being also either confederate with them, or subject and obliged unto them for benefits which they had received of the Emperours) from the borders of Scythia into the North parts of Britaine, for to annoy the Britans and cause the said usurper to returne backe with his forces. But they, because they were exceeding puissant (such was the inbred valour and warlike nature of the Gothes), and withall finding the Island destitute both of men and other meanes to defend it, becomming of pirats and rovers neighbour-dwellers, planted themselves in the saide Northerne parts, and held by strong hand no small Provinces thereof, which they usurped as their owne. Now, who these Gothes were let others shew, and peradventure out of Procopius they might find some light; in whom we read that Belisarius, when the goths expostulated with him for that he had granted Sicilie to the Romanes, answereth in these words: And we likewise permit the Gothes to have unto themselves Britaine, a farre better countrey than Sicilie, and in ancient times subject to the Romane Empire. For meet it is that they who first have bestowed benefits should either reape condigne thanks againe, or receive good turnes reciprocally. To this also may seem to bee referred that the Scots write how Fergusius the Scot accompanied Alaricke the Goth in the sacking of Rome; that Irenicus likewise reporteth how Gensricke King of the Vandals came over into Scotland and Britaine; as also that which Cambrensis delivereth unto us (but whence himselfe had it I know not), namely, how the Gaideli , that is to say the Scots, drew both their descent and also their name from the Vandals, who were all one with the Gothes, as Paulus Diaconus sheweth. Neither can it be any disparagement at all to the name and nation of the Scots to acknowledge themselves the of-spring of the Gothes, seeing that the most puissant Kings of Spaine thinke it an honour to fetch their pedigree from hence; and the noblest houses in all Italie either draw indeed, or else falsifie their lineall descent from the Gothes. The Emperor himselfe Charles the Fifth would often times give out, and that in good earnest, that all the Nobilitie of Europe came out of Scandia, and from the stocke of the Gothes. But thee reasons are not of such credit and importance with mee as that I dare thereupon resolve that the Scots are sprung and issued from the Gothes.

10. Now, to end all in a word, I would have the learned Scots to consider seriously whether they were of the most ancient Britans inhabitants of Ireland (for certain it is that Britans in times past inhabited Ireland) and called Scythae or Scoti because they suted so well with Scythians in maners, or Scythians indeed, such as came out of Scandia or Scythia, unto whom the Gallaeci, Franci, or Germanes driven out of Spaine, and Gothes or Vandals came afterwards, what time as Spaine with most hot and bloody wars was all in combustion: or rather a mishmash of sundry nations which conflowed into Ireland, and thereupon gat that name among their neighbors. The language , saith Giraldus, of the Irish is called Gaidelach, as one would say, gathered out of all tongues. And Florilegus (whencesoever he gathered it), From Picts and Irish , quoth he, the Scots took their beginning, as people compounded of divers nations: for that is called scot which from sundrie things groweth into one heape , like was the Almanes (by the testimony of Asinius Quadratus) carried that name because they came of a commixture of divers men. Neither may any man thinke it strange that so many nations in old time flowed into Ireland, considering the site of that Iland in the very midst between Britan and Spaine, and lying open so convenientlie upon the French sea: seeing also it appeareth most certainly upon record in the best approoved Annals that within these eight hundred yeeres last passed the Norwegians and Oustmans, that is, Easterlings out of Germany, the Englishmen, Welchmen, and Scots out of Britain planted themselves surely there. These are the points, I say, which i would wish the Scotish men in this matter diligently to thinke upon. But let them remember in the meane time that i have affirmed nothing, but onely given an inkling of certain things which may seeme in some sort materiall and to make for the purpose. Whence, if the originall of the Scots shall receive no light, let them seeke elswhere. For I my selfe in this am starke blind, and have in vain searched and hunted after the trueth, that flieth still from me, howbeit with this considerate and circumspect care, that I have not, I hope, given the least offence to any whomsoever.

11. Touching the time when the name of Scots became first famous, there is some question, and Buchanan, a right good Poet, hath herein commensed an action against Humfrie Lhuid, as good an Antiquarie. Because the said Lhuid averreth that the name of Scots can no where be picked out of Authors before the time of Constantine the Great, he fals upon the man, is ready to take him by the throat, and with two arguments goeth about to give him the deadly stab: the one out of the Panegyrist, that Britain in Caesars time was wont to bee troubled with Irish enemies, therefore the Scots as then were seated in Britain: but no man before him ever said that so much as those Irish had then any setled place, much lesse that they were Scots. No doubt the Panegyrist, after the usuall and received maner of writers, spake according to his own times and not unto Caesars. And as for the conjecture, it is none of his own but the conjecture of that most learned Joseph Scaliger. For he in his notes upon Propertius, whiles he was correcting (by the way) that verse out of Seneca his enterlude,

And the Britans those that seated are beyond the known sea-coast
And Brigants with blew painted shields, he forced with his hoast
To yeeld their necks in Romane chaines as captives to be led,
And even the Ocean this new powre of Roman ax to dread,

readeth Scoto-Brigantes , and straightwaies exclaimeth that the Scots are now beholden unto him for their originall. But this his opinion I cannot yeeld assent, though it be somewhat against my will, who in many things have alwaies for his learning honored and admired the man. For this conjecture ariseth not from the divers readings in books, but out of his own braine, and the sense may beare either Caeruleos scuta Brigantes , as it is in all books, or Caeruleos cute Brigantes , that is, the Brigantes with blue died skins, as that most learned Hadrian Junius readeth it. But Buchanan, who had rather disport himselfe sweetly in his own conceit and the witty invention of one other man, than to judge aright with the usuall and approoved reading of that place, giveth a marvellous applause to this conjecture. First, because authors do not record that the Britans pained their shields; then, for that Seneca called them Scoto-Brigantes for difference sake, to distinguish them from the Brigantes of Spaine and Ireland; last of all, because in these verses he makes a distinction between the Britans and Brigantes, as though they were divers nations. But if one would narrowlie sift and examine these matters, what letteth but that they might paint their shields as well as themselves and their chariots? Why should hee for distinction sake coine this new word Scoto-Brigantes ? When he calleth them blew, and saith they were subdued by Claudius, doth he not sufficiently distinguish them from the other Brigantes? But that observation of his touching Britans and Brigantes, as if they were divers nations, doth scarse savour of a Poets head, which could not be ignorant of that poeticall figure and maner of speaking, wherein a part is used for the whole, and contrariwise. Wherefore, seeing these things make nothing to his cause, I will second Buchanan by way, as it were, of a fresh supply, with the aid of Egesippus (who is commonly reputed a verie ancient writer). For thus writeth he when he treateth of the Romans power: They make Scotland to quake, which is beholden to no land for any thing: before them Saxony trembleth, that for Marishes is inaccessible. But heare you me, this author shal stand behind in the rereward, for he lived after Constantines daies, as may be gathered out of his owne writings: neither can it bee prooved out of him that the Scots dwelt in Britain, no more than out of that verse of Sidonius which erewhile I alleaged. Yea mary, but there is another reason of more weight and moment indeed, which M. John Crag, a right famous and learned man, found by most exquisit and curious search in Joseph Ben-Gorion, writing of the destruction of Jerusalem, to wit, that in an Hebrew copie the Scots are expresly named where Munster in his Latine translation hath untruely put down Britans for Scots. But in what age that Ben-Gorion lived I cannot find for certaine: sure I am that he was after Flavius Josephus, because he maketh mention of the Franks, whose name long after began to be knowen.

12. But surely, if I may be so bold as to interpose my selfe in this question among so great Scholars, so farre as I have beene able to observe, the first time that ever the Scotish nation became named in authors was whiles Aurelianus was Emperour. For Porphyrie, who then wrote against the Christians, as Saint Jerome informeth us, mentioned them in these words: Neither Britaine, a fertile Province of tyrants, nor the Scotish nations, together with the barbarous people round about, as farre as to the Ocean, had any knowledge of Moses and the Prophets. At which time verily, or somewhat before, those that were well seene in Antiquities have noted that the names of the most potent nations of French and Almanes were not heard of before the time of Gallienus the Emperour.

13. It is no assured truth therefore, which some write, that the name and Kingdome of the Scots flourished in Britaine many hundred yeeres before the birth of Christ. But hearken to Girald, who will tell you the just time: When great O-Nel (saith hee) held the Monarchie of Ireland, six sonnes of Mured King of Ulster seized upon the North parts of Britaine. Hereupon from them was there a nation propagated, which by a peculiar name called Scotica, that is Scottish, inhabiteth that part even to this day. And that this befel at the verie time when the Romane Empire in everie mans sight grew to decay, it is collected thus. Whiles Lagerius the sonne of O-Nell raged over the Irish, Patrick (the Apostle of the Irish-men) came into Ireland, much about the yeere after Christs nativitie 430. So as it may seeme this hapned neere the daies of Honorius Augustus. For then, whereas before time, ranging up and downe without any certaine place of abode (as Ammianus doth report) they had long annoyed Britaine and the places appointed for the Marches, they seeme to have set their footing in Britaine. But they themselves will have it thus, that they did but returne then out of Ireland, whether they had retired before, what time they were put to flight by the Britans and driven away: and so they understand that place out of Gildas of this verie time, The Irish spoilers returne home, minding shortly to come back again. And much about this time, some think that Reuda (whom Bede mentioneth), either by force and arms or through favour, planted himselfe in this Iland upon an arme of the river Cluid northward. And of this captaine Reuda (saith he), the Dalreudini, even to this day, take their name. For in their tongue dal signifieth a part. And others thinke that from this Reuda it was that we called the Irish-Scots Redshanks. It is thought also that the same Simon Brech whom the Scots avouch to bee the founder of their nation flourished in these daies. Sinbrech in truth was the name of the man, which is as much to say Sin with the freckled face, as wee read in Fordon. And peradventure the same Brech he was, who about the time of S. Patrick, together with Thuibai, Mac-lei, and Auspac, Scots, infested Britaine, as wee read in the life of Saint Carantoc.

14. But why the High-land Scots living in Britaine call that countrey which they inhabite Alban and Albin, and the Irish name it Allabany, were a question for an ingenuous and liberall witt to travell in: as namely, whether this word Allabany may not have in it some token of the ancient Albion, or whether it came of whitenesse, which they call ban , and therefore may import as much in Scotish as Ellan-Ban , that is, a white island, or whether it bee derived of Ireland, which the Irish Poets name Banne, so that Allabany may sound as much as Another Ireland or A Second Ireland? For historiographers were wont to call Ireland Scotland the Greater, and the Kingdome of the Scots in Britaine Scotland the Lesse. Moreover, seeing these Scots in their own language terme themselves Albin, whereupon Blondus called the Scots Albienses or Albinenses, and Buchanan Albini, let Criticks consider whether that in Saint Jerome, where he inveigheth against a certaine Pelagian, a Scot borne, it should not be read Albinum for Alpinum when hee taketh him up in these termes, The great and corpulent Alpine dog; and who is able to doe more harme with his heeles than his teeth, for he hath his of-spring of the Scotish nation, neere neighbours to the Britans , of whom in another place he said, that he was ful fatned with Scottish pottage and brewese. Of Alpine dogs I never remember that I had read ought, but that Scotish dogs were in much request at Rome in those daies, Symmachus sheweth unto us, Seven Scotish Dogs there were (saith he) the day going before the Games, which in Rome they wondered at so, as they thought they were brought thither in yron-grated Cages.

15. But after that the Scots were come into Britaine, and had joyned themselves unto the Picts, albeit they never ceased to vexe the Britains with skirmishes and in-roades, yet grew not they presently up to any great state, but kept a long time in that corner where they first arrived, not daring (as Beda writeth) for the space of one hundred and seven and twentie yeeres to come forth into the field against the Princes of Northumberland, untill at one and the same time they had made such a slaughter of the Picts that few or none of them were left alive, and withall the Kingdome of Northumberland, what with civill dissensions and invasions of the Danes, sore shaken and weakned, fell at once to the ground. For then all the Northerne tract of Britaine became subject to them, and tooke their name, together with that hithermore countrey on his side Cluid and Edinburgh Frith. For that it also was a parcell of the Kingdome of Northumberland, and possessed by the English-Saxons, no man gain-saith; and hereof it is, that all they which inhabite the East part of Scotland, and be called Lowland men, as one would say of the Lower-countrey, are the very of-spring of the English-Saxons and doe speake English. But they that dwell in the West coast, named Highland men, as it were, of the upper countrey, be meere [pure, true] Scots and speake Irish, as I have said before: and so none are deadly enemies as they be unto the Lowland men which use the English tongue as we doe.

16. Ammianus Marcellinus writeth that, together with the Scots, Attacotti, a warlike people, did much mischiefe unto Britainne, and those Humfrey Lhuid guesseth (how truely I know not) to have been also of the Scotish nation. Saint Jiermone telleth us plainely that they were a British people. For he writeth, that when he was a very youth (while Julian, as it seemeth, was Emperour) he saw in Gaule the Attacots, a British nation, feed of mans flesh, who when they find in the Forrests heards of swine, flockes of neat [deer] and other cattell, were wont to cut off the buttockes of their heard-men and keepers, the dugs also and paps of the women, and account the same the onely dainties in the world. For so according to the true manuscript copies we are to read in this place Attacotti (and not Scoti with Erasmus, who acknowledgeth this text to be corrupted), although I must needs confesse that in one Manuscript we read Attigotti , in another Catacotti , and in a third Cattiti. Neither can this passage bee any waies understood, as the vulgar sort take it, of the Scots, considering that Saint Jerome, treating there of the sundry orders and maners of divers nations, beginneth the next sentence following in this wise: The Nation of the Scots hath no proper wives of their owne &. In another place also, where Saint Jerome maketh mention of the Attacotti, Erasmus putteth downe for them Azoti. These Attacotti, as appeareth by the booke called Notitiae , served under the Romanes in their warres, in the very decaying and declining state of the Empire. For reckoned there are among the Palatine aids within Gaul Attecotii iuniores Gallicani , and Attecotti Honoriani seniores ; also, within Italie, Attecotti Honoriani iuniores. By this addition Honoriani they seeme to be of the number of those Barbarians whom Honorius the Emperour entertained, and to no small dammage of the Empire enrolled as souldiers to serve in his warres.

17. Among these nations also which made rodes and invasions into Britain, John Caius, a man much exercised with cares and endevours of the best kind, and one who hath passing well deserved of our Common-wealth of learning, reckoneth the Ambrones, for that he red in Gildas, where he writeth of Picts and Scots thus: Those former enemies, like Ambrones, Wolves, even enraged for extreame hunger, with dry jawes leaping over the sheepfold whiles the shepheard is out of the way, being carried with the wings of ores and armes of rowers, set forward also with sailes helped with gales of winde, brake thorow the bounds, killing and slaying all where they come. This good meaning old man thought of that which hee had read in Festus, namely, that the Ambrones, together with the Cimbri, flocked by numbers into Italie: and being busied about another matter, it was quite out of his head that ambro , as Isidorus noteth, doth signifie a Devourer. Neither doth Gildas use that word in any other sense, nor Geffrey of Monmouth, who called the Saxons also ambrones , nor any other Ambrones than these could my selfe hitherto ever find in ancient Writers to have invaded Britaine.

William Camden, Britain, or, a Chorographicall Description of the most flourishing Kingdomes, England, Scotland, and Ireland (London: George Bishop and John Norton, 1610) Copyright 2004 by Dana F. Sutton. This text was transcribed by Professor Sutton, of the University of California, Irvine, from Philemon Holland's 1610 translation [British Library Short Title Catalogue 4509, Early English Books reel 911:1]. For a full critical edition presenting Camden's original Latin text in parallel with Holland's translation, visit Professor Sutton's site at:


Placename mark-up by Humphrey Southall.

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