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ANCIENT STATE OF SCOTLAND.                            233



We must be careful not to permit
the ideas which are derived from the
condition of Scotland in the present
day to influence our conclusions as to
its appearance in those rude and early
ages of which we have been writing.
No two pictures could be more dis­
similar than Scotland in the thirteenth
and fourteenth, and Scotland in the
nineteenth century. The mountains,
indeed, and the rivers are stern and
indomitable features of nature, upon
which the hand of man can work but
feeble alterations; yet, with this ex­
ception, every thing was different. The
face of the country was covered by
immense forests, chiefly of oak, in the
midst of which, upon the precipitous
banks of rivers, or on rocks which
formed a natural fortification, and
were deemed impregnable to the mili­
tary art of that period, were placed
the castles of the feudal barons. One
principal source of the wealth of the
proprietors of these extensive forests
consisted in the timber which they
contained, and the deer and other
animals of the chase with which they
abounded. When Edward I. subdued
and overran the country, we find him
in the practice of repaying the services
of those who submitted to his autho­
rity, by presents of so many stags and
oaks from the forests which he found
in possession of the crown. Thus, on
the 18th of August 1291, the king
directed the keeper of the forest of
Selkirk to deliver thirty stags to the
Archbishop of St Andrews; twenty
stags and sixty oaks to the Bishop of
Glasgow ; ten to the High Steward;
and six to Brother Bryan, Preceptor

of the Order of Knights Templars in

To mark the names, or define the
exact limits of these huge woods, is
now impossible; yet, from the public
records, and the incidental notices of
authentic historians, a few scattered
facts may be collected.

In the north, we find the forest of
Spey,2 extending along the banks of
that majestic river; the forests of
Alnete, and of Tarnaway, of Awne,
Kilblene, Langmorgan, and of Elgin,
Forres, Lochendorb, and Inverness.3
The extensive county of Aberdeen
appears to have been covered with
wood. We meet there with the forests
of Kintore, of Cardenache, Drum or
Drome, Stocket, Killanell, Sanquhar,
Tulloch, Gasgow, Darrus, Collyn, and
what is called the New Forest of
Innerpeffer.4 In Banff was the forest
of Boyne; in Kincardine and Forfar
the forests of Alyth, Drymie, and
Plater;5 in Fife, those of Cardenie
and Uweth; 6 in Ayrshire, the forest
of Senecastre;7 in the Lowlands, those
of Drumselch,8 near Edinburgh; of
Jedburgh and Selkirk, Cottenshope,
Maldesley,9 Ettrick, and Peebles; of
Dolar, Traquhair, and Melrose.10

The counties of Stirling and Clack­
mannan contained extensive royal
forests, in which, by a grant from

1 Rotuli Scotić, vol. i. pp. 4, 5. 18th Aug.

2 Ibid. vol. i. p. 5. Anno 1291, m. 11.

3  Ibid. p. 9. Robertson’s Index to the
Charters, pp. 32, 35, 42. Rolls of Parliament,
ii. 469, quoted in Caledonia, vol. i. p. 792.
Fordun a Hearne, p. 1027.

4  Robertson, pp. 23, 33, 38, 58, 71, 72 ; also
Rotuli Scotić, in anno 1292, p. 10. Chamber­
lains’ Accounts. Compot. Vicecomitatis Aber-
dein, p. 298.

5 Robertson’s Index, pp. 39, 55, 67 ; and
Rotuli Scotić, p. 8.

6 Robertson, p. 47. Cartulary Dunferm. f.
12 and 20.

7 Cartulary of Paisley, p. 46, in Caledonia,
vol. i. p. 793.

8 Caledonia, vol. i. p. 793.

9 Chamberlains’ Accounts. Rotuli Comp.
Temp. Custod. Regni, p. 62.

10 Rotuli Scotić, in anno 1296, vol. i. p. 33.
Ibid. pp. 5, 278, 380. Ibid. p. 748. Cartu­
lary of Dunferm. p. 10. Rotuli Scotić, p. 7 ;
and Fordun, p. 1048. Robertson, p. 81. Chron.
Melrose, ad anno 1184, quoted in Dalzel’s
Fragments, p. 32. Cartulary of Kelso. p. 323.
Caledonia, p. 798.

234                                    HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.

David I., the monks of Holyrood had
the right of cutting wood for building
and other purposes, and of pasture for
their swine.1 In the reign of the
same king, a forest covered the dis­
trict between the Leader and the Gala;
and in Perthshire, occupied the lands
between Scone and Cargil.2 Tracts
which, in the present day, are stretched
out into an interminable extent of
desolate moor, or occupied by endless
miles of barren peat-hags, were, in
those early ages, covered by forests of
oak, ash, beech, and other hard timber.
Huge knotted trunks of black oak,
the remains of these primitive woods,
have been, and are still, discovered in
almost every moor in Scotland. Such,
indeed, was, at an early period, the
extent and impervious nature of these
woods, that the English, in their inva­
sions, endeavoured to clear the coun­
try by fire and by the hatchet; and
Knighton relates that in an expedition
of the Duke of Lancaster into this
country, in the reign of Richard the
Second, this prince, having recourse
to these methods, employed in the
work of destruction so immense a
multitude, that the stroke of eighty
thousand hatchets might be heard
resounding through the forests, whilst
the fire was blazing and consuming
them at the same moment.3 So erro­
neous is the opinion of a conjectural
historian, who pronounces that there
is little reason to think that in any
age, of which an accurate remem­
brance is preserved, this kingdom was
ever more woody than it is now.4
In the times of which we write,
however, many districts in the midst
of these forests had been cleared of
the wood, and brought under cultiva­
tion. Thus, in the forest of Plater,
in the county of Forfar, David the
Second, in 1366, made a grant of four
oxgangs of arable land for a redden do

1  Caledonia, vol. i. p. 792.

2  Cart. Melrose, p. 104. Cart, of Scone, p.
16. Where I quote manuscript Cartularies,
the reader will find the originals in the Library
of the Faculty of Advocates, Edinburgh, un­
less some other collection is mentioned.

3  Knighton apud Twysden, vol. ii. p. 2674.
Barbour’s Bruce, p. 323.

4 Wallace on the Nature and Descent of
Peerages, p. 35.

of a pair of white gloves, or two silver
pennies, to Murdoch del Rhynd.5 In
the same forest, the monks of Rest-
ennet, at the death of Alexander the
Third, enjoyed the tenth of the hay
made in its meadows,6 and in 1362,
the king permitted John Hay of Tully-
boll to bring into cultivation, and ap­
propriate, the whole district lying
between the river Spey and the burn
of Tynot, in the forest of Awne.7
From these facts it may be inferred
that the same process of clearing away
the wood, and reducing large districts
of the forests into fields and meadow
lands, had been generally pursued
throughout the country.8 It was a
work, in some measure, both of peril
and necessity; for savage animals
abounded as much in Scotland as in
the other uncleared and wooded re­
gions of northern Europe; and the
bear, the wolf, the wild boar, and the
bison, to the husbandmen and culti­
vators of those rude ages, must have
been enemies of a destructive and for­
midable nature.9

Another striking feature in the as­
pect of the country during those early
ages was formed by the marshes or
fens. Where the mountains sunk
down into the plain, and the country
stretched itself into a level, mossy fens
of great extent occupied those fertile
and beautiful districts which are now
drained and brought under cultiva­
tion.10 Within the inaccessible wind­
ings of these morasses, which were in­
tersected by roads known only to the
inhabitants, Wallace and Bruce, during
the long war of liberty, frequently
defended themselves, and defied the
heavy-armed English cavalry ; and it Is
said that from lying out amidst these
damp and unhealthy exhalations Bruce
caught the disease of which he died.11

5 Robertson’s Index, p. 81.
MS. Monast. Scotić, p. 31, quoted in
Caledonia, vol. i. p. 798.

7  Robertson’s Index, p. 71.

8  Chamberlains’ Accounts. Rotuli Compot.
Temp. Cust. Regni, p. 63.

9 Dalyel’s Desultory Reflections on the State
of Ancient Scotland, pp. 32, 33.

10 Triveti Annales, p. 316.

11 Palgrave’s Parliamentary Writs, Chrono­
logical Abstract, p. 76. Walsingham, p 78,
Barbour, pp. 110, 151. Trivet, 346.

ANCIENT STATE OF SCOTLAND.                             235

The royal castles must have pre­
sented an additional and imposing
feature in the external appearance of
the country at this period. Built
chiefly for strength and resistance
during a time of war, these fortresses
were the great garrisons of the coun­
try, and reared their immense walls
and formidable towers and buttresses
in those situations which nature had
herself fortified, and where little was
to be done by man but to avail him­
self of the power alre’ady placed in his
hand. In the year 1292, when Ed­
ward, after his judgment in favour of
Baliol, gave directions to his English
captains to deliver the royal castles
into the hands of the new king, we
find these to have been twenty-three
in number. On the borders were the
castles of Jedburgh, Roxburgh, and
Berwick ; those of Dumfries, Kirkcud­
bright, Wigtown, Ayr, Tarbet,1 Dum­
barton, and Stirling, formed a semi­
circle of fortresses which commanded
the important districts of Annandale,
Galloway, Carrick, Kyle, Lanark, and
the country round Stirling, containing
the passes into the Highlands. Be­
tween Stirling, Perth, and the Tay
there was no royal castle, till we reach
Dundee, where Brian Fitz-Alan com­
manded ; after which the castles of
Forfar, Kincardine, and Aberdeen, pro­
tected and kept under the counties of
Perth, Angus, Kincardine, and Aber­
deen ; and travelling still further north,
we find the castles of Cromarty or
Crumbarthyn, Dingwall, Inverness,
Nairn, Forres, Elgin, and Banff, which,
when well garrisoned, were deemed
sufficient to maintain the royal autho­
rity in those remote and unsettled

Such were the royal castles of Scot­
land previous to the war of liberty;
but it was the policy of Bruce, as we
have seen, to raze the fortresses of the
kingdom, wherever they fell under
his power; whilst, on the other hand,
Edward, in his various campaigns,
found it necessary to follow the same
plan which had been so successful in
Wales, and either to construct addi-

1 Chamberlains’ Accounts, p. 9.
Rotuli Scotić, vol. i. pp. 11, 12.

tional fortresses, for the purpose of
overawing the country, or to strengthen
by new fortifications such baronial
castles as he imagined best situated
for his design. In this manner the
architecture of the strong Norman
castles, which had already been par­
tially introduced by the Scoto-Norman
barons, was more effectually taught
by their formidable enemy to the
Scots, who profited by the lesson, and
turned it against himself. It not uh-
frequently happened that the siege of
a baronial castle detained the whole
English army for weeks, and even
months, before it; and although feebly
garrisoned, the single strength of its
walls sometimes resisted and defied
the efforts of Edward’s strongest ma­
chines and most skilful engineers.
To enumerate or to point out the
situation of the baronial castles which
at this early period formed the resi­
dences of the feudal nobility and their
vassals would be almost impossible.
They raised their formidable towers
in every part of the kingdom, on its
coasts and in its islands, on its penin­
sulas and in its lakes, upon the banks
of its rivers, and on the crests of its
mountains ; and many of those inha­
bited by the higher nobility rivalled,
and in their strength and extent some­
times surpassed, the fortresses belong­
ing to the king.3

In the year 1309, when the military
talents of Bruce had wrested from
England nearly the whole of the royal
castles, we find Edward the Second
writing earnestly to his principal
officers in Scotland, directing them to
maintain their ground to the last ex­
tremity against the enemy; and it is
singular that, with the exception of
Edinburgh, Stirling, Dumfries, and
Jedburgh, the posts which they held,
and which are enumerated in his order,
are all of them private baronial castles,
whose proprietors had either been
compelled by superior force, or in­
duced by selfish considerations, to

3 Fordun, in speaking of the death of Ed­
ward the First, asserts that within six years
of that event Bruce had taken and cast down
a hundred and thirty-seven castles, fortalices,
and towers. Fordun a Goodal. vol. ii. p. 240,

236                                   HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.

embrace the English interest. In his
letters are mentioned the castle of
Kirkintilloch, between Dumbarton
and Stirling; Dalswinton in Galloway,
a principal seat of the Comyns; Caer-
laverock, belonging to the Maxwells;
Thrieve castle, also in Galloway; Loch-
mabenin Annandale, the seat of the
Bruces; Butel, the property of the
Steward; Dunbar, a castle of great
strength and extent, one of the keys
of the kingdom, by which the Earls of
March commanded so much influence
in an age of war and invasion; Dirle-
ton, also of great extent, and possessed
by the Norman race of the De Vaux;
Selkirk, at that time in the hands of
Aymer de Valence, earl of Pembroke ;
and Both well, a castle at various times
the property of the Olifards, Morays,
and Douglases.1 Innumerable other
castles and smaller strengths, from the
seats of the highest earls, whose power
was almost kingly, down to the single
towers of the retainer or vassal, with
their low iron-ribbed door, and loop-
holed windows, were scattered over
every district in Scotland; and even
in the present day the traveller can­
not explore the most unfrequented
scenes, and the remotest glens of the
country, without meeting some gray
relic of other days, reminding him
that the chain of feudal despotism had
there planted one of its thousand
links, and around which there often
linger those fine traditions, where fic­
tion has lent her romantic colours to

In the vicinity of these strongholds,
in which the Scottish barons of the
thirteenth and fourteenth centuries
held their residence, there was cleared
from wood as much ground as was
necessary for the support of that nu­
merous train of vassals and retainers
which formed what was termed the
“ following “ of their lord, and who
were supported in a style of rude and
abundant hospitality. The produce
of his fields and forests, his huge herds
of swine, his flocks and cattle, his gra­
naries and breweries, his mills and
malting-houses, his dovecots, gardens,

1 Rotuli Scotić, vol. i. p. 80. Olifard, the
same name, I conjecture, as Oliphant.

orchards, and “infield and outfield”
wealth, all lent their riches to main­
tain those formidable bands of warlike
knights and vassals, who were ready
on every summons to surround the
banner of their lord. Around these
castles, also, were placed the rude ha­
bitations and cottages belonging to the
servants and inferior dependants of
the baron, to his armourers, tailors,
wrights, masons, falconers, forest-
keepers, and many others, who minis­
tered to his necessities, his comforts,
or his pleasures. It happened, too,
not unfrequently, that, ambitious of
the security which the vicinity of a
feudal castle insured, the free farmers
or opulent tradesmen of those remote
times requested permission to build
their habitations and booths near its
walls, which, for payment of a small
rent, was willingly allowed; and we
shall afterwards have occasion to re­
mark that to this practice we perhaps
owe the origin of our towns and royal
burghs in Scotland. It appears, also,
from the authentic evidence of the
Cartularies, that at this period, upon
the large feudal estates belonging to
the nobles or to the Church, were to
be found small villages, or collections
of hamlets and cottages, termed Villś
in the charters of the times, annexed
to which was a district of land called
a Territorium.2 This was cultivated
in various proportions by the higher
ranks of the husbandmen, who pos­
sessed it, either in part or in whole, as
their own property, which they held
by lease, and for which they paid a
rent,3 or by the villeyns and cottars,
who were themselves, in frequent in­
stances, as we shall immediately see,
the property of the lord of the soil.
Thus, by a similar process, which we
find took place in England under the
Normans, and which is clearly to be
traced in Domesday Book, the greater
feudal barons were possessed not only
of immense estates, embracing with­
in them field and forest, river, lake,
and mountain, but of numerous and

2  MS. Cartulary of Melrose, pp. 21, 22.
Cartulary of Kelso, pp. 254, 255.

3  Cartulary of Kelso, p. 257, in 1258. Ibid,
pp. 312, 317.

ANCIENT STATE OF SCOTLAND.                             237

flourishing villages,1 for which they
received a regular rent, and of whose
wealth and gains they always held a
share, because they were frequently
the masters of the persons and pro­
perty of the tradesmen and villeyns,
by whom such early communities were
inhabited. In these villages the larger
divisions, under the names of carucates,
or oxgates, were cultivated by
the husbandmen and the cottars under
them; while, for their own mainte­
nance, each of these poor labourers
was the master of a cottage with a
small piece of ground, for which he
paid a trifling rent to the lord of the

It happened not unfrequently that
the high ecclesiastics, or the convents
and religious houses, were the pro­
prietors of villages, from whose popu­
lation there was not exacted the same
strict routine of military service which
was due by the vassals of the temporal
barons; and the consequences of this
exemption were seen in the happier
and more improved condition of their
husbandmen and villeyns, and in the
richer cultivation of their ample terri­
tories. A great portion of the district
attached to these villages was divided
into pasture-land and woodland, in
which a right of pasturage, for a cer­
tain number of animals, belonged to
each of the villagers or husbandmen
in common. It is from the informa­
tion conveyed in the Cartularies that
the condition of these early villages
is principally to be discovered.3

Thus, for example, in the village of
Bolden, in Roxburghshire, which be­
longed to the monks of Kelso, in the
latter part of the reign of Alexander

1 Henshall’s Specimens and Parts of a His­
tory of South Britain, p. 64. In the small
part of this valuable work which has been
published, and which it is much to be regret­
ted was discontinued by the author from want
of encouragement, a clear and authentic view
is given of the state of England under the
Normans, founded on an accurate examina­
tion of the original record of Domesday Book.

2 Cartulary of Kelso, p. 477. In the same
MS. there is a Donation, in 1307, by Nicholas
dictus Moyses de Bondington, “ Cotagii cum
orto quod Tyock Uxor Andree quondam tene-
rit de me in villa de Bondington.”

3 Rotulus Reddituum Monasterii de Kul-
chow. Cartulary of Kelso, p. 475.

the Third, there were twenty-eight
husbandmen, who possessed each a
husbandland, with common pasture;
for which he paid a rent of half a
mark, or six shillings and eightpence,
besides various services which were
due to the landlord. There were, in
the same village, thirty-six cottagers,
each of whom held nearly half an acre
of arable land, with a right of common
pasture. The united rent paid by the
whole cottagers amounted to fifty-five
shillings; in addition to which, they
were bound to perform certain services
in labour. To the village there was
attached a mill, which gave a rent of
eight marks; and four brew ­houses,
each of them let for ten shillings, with
an obligation to sell their ale to the
abbot at the rate of a lagen and a half
for a penny.4 These villages, of course,
varied much in extent, in the number
of their mansions, and the fertility of
their lands ; whilst the greater secu­
rity, resulting from the increasing
numbers and the wealth of the inhabi­
tants, became an inducement for many
new settlers from different parts to
join the community, and plant them­
selves under the protection of the lord
of the soil. This emigration, however,
of the cottars or villeyns from one part
of the country or from one village to
another, could not be legally effected
without the express consent of the
master to whom they belonged. A
fact of which we shall be convinced
when we come to consider the condi­
tion of the great body of the people
in those early ages.

To one casting his eye over Scotland
as it existed during the thirteenth and
fourteenth centuries, the numerous
religious establishments, the cathe­
drals, convents, monasteries, and epis­
copal palaces, must have formed an­
other striking feature in the external
aspect of the country. Situated always
in the richest, and not unfrequently in
the most picturesque spots, and built
in that imposing style of architecture
which is one of the greatest triumphs
of the Middle Ages, these structures
reared their holy spires and towers in

4 Cartulary ’of Kelso, pp. 478, 479. See
Illustrations, letters 00.

238                                   HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.

almost every district through which
you travelled; and your approach to
them could commonly be traced by
the high agricultural improvements
which they spread around them. The
woods, enclosed and protected, were of
loftier growth; the meadows and corn-
fields richer and better cultivated; the
population inhabiting the church-lands
more active, thriving, and industrious
than in the lands belonging to the
crown or to the feudal nobility.

To give any correct idea of the num­
ber or the opulence of the various
episcopal and conventual establish­
ments which were to be found in Scot­
land at this remote era, would require
a more lengthened discussion than our
present limits will allow. Besides
the bishoprics, with their cathedral
churches, their episcopal palaces, and
the residences of the minor clergy
which were attached to them, our
early monarchs and higher nobility, in
the devotional spirit of the age, en­
couraged those various orders of regu­
lar and secular churchmen which then
existed in Europe. The Canons Regu­
lar of St Augustine, who were invited
into Scotland by Alexander the First,
and highly favoured by David, had
not less than twenty-eight monas­
teries ; the Cistertians or Bernardine
Monks, who were also warmly patron­
ised by David, possessed thirteen; and
the Dominican or Black Friars, fifteen
monasteries, in various parts of the
country. Although these orders were
the most frequent, yet numerous
other divisions of canons, monks, and
friars obtained an early settlement in
Scotland, and erected for themselves
in many places those noble abbacies,
priories, or convents, whose ruins at
the present day are so full of pictur­
esque beauty and interesting associa­
tions. The Red Friars, an order
originally instituted by St John of
Matha and Felix de Valois for the
redemption of Christian slaves from
the Infidels, possessed nine monas­
teries ; the Prćmonstratensian Monks,
who boasted that the rule which they
followed was delivered to them in a
vision by St Augustine, and written
in golden letters, were highly favoured

by David the First, Alexander the
Second, and Fergus, lord of Galloway.
The Tyronensian and Clunacensian
Monks, the Templars, the Franciscans,
and the Carmelites had all of them
establishments in Scotland; whilst the
Augustinian, the Benedictine, and the
Cistertian Nuns were possessed of
numerous rich and noble convents;
which, along with the hospitals, erected
by the wide­spread charity of the
Catholic Church, for the entertain­
ment of pilgrims and strangers, and
the cure and support of the sick and
infirm, complete the catalogue of the
religious establishments of Scotland
during the thirteenth and fourteenth

Although covered in many places
with vast and impenetrable woods and
marshes, the country around the mon­
asteries and religious houses adjoining
to the castles of the nobles, and to
the great towns, royal burghs, and
villages, appears in the reign of Alex­
ander the Third to have been in a
state of considerable cultivation. Even
during the wars of the three Edwards,
when we take into view the dreadful
disadvantages against which it had to
struggle, the agriculture of Scotland
was respectable.

The Scottish kings possessed royal
manors in almost every shire, which
were cultivated by their own free
tenants and their villeyns; and to
which, for the purpose of gathering
the rents, and consuming the agricul­
tural produce, they were in the cus­
tom of repairing, in their progresses
through the kingdom. This fact is
established by the evidence of the
Cartularies, which contain frequent
grants, by David the First, William
the Lion, and the two Alexanders, to
the convents and religious houses, of
various kinds of agricultural produce
to be drawn from the royal manors;
and the same truth is as conclusively
made out by the original accounts of
the Great Chamberlains of Scotland.2

1 Account of the Religious Houses in Scot­
land. Keith’s Catalogue of the Scottish
Bishops, p. 235.

2  Of these accounts, which contain a body
of information upon the civil history of Scot­
land, unrivalled in authenticity, and of high

ANCIENT STATE OF SCOTLAND.                           239

David, for example, granted to the
monks of Scone the half of the skins
and the fat of all the beasts which
were killed for the king’s use on his
lands to the north of the Tay; and
the half of the skins and hides of all
the beasts slain upon festival days, at
Stirling, and on his manors between
the Forth and the Tay.1 Innumer­
able charters, by his successors, to
the various monasteries and religious
houses in the kingdom, evince the
generosity or superstition of our
monarchs, and the extent of their
royal demesnes. Scarcely less numer­
ous, and upon a scale not greatly in­
ferior to those of the king, were the
extensive feudal estates belonging to
the religious houses, to dignified clergy,
and to the magnates, or higher barons
of Scotland; who granted charters of
lands to their own military vassals and
retainers, or by leases, to other more
pacific tenants, upon whom they de­
volved the agricultural improvement
of their domains. Thus, for example,
we find, in the Cartulary of Kelso, that
the monks of this rich religious house
granted to the men of Innerwick, in
the year 1190, a thirty-three years’
lease of certain woods and lands, for
the annual rent of twenty shillings;
which was approved of by Alan, the
son of Walter, the Steward, to whom
the men of Innerwick belonged.2

The clergy, whose domains, chiefly
from the liberal and frequent endow­
ments of David the First, and his suc­
cessors, were at this period amazingly
rich and extensive, repaid this pro­
fusion, by becoming the great agricul­
tural improvers of the country. From
them those leases principally proceeded,
which had the most beneficial effect in
clearing it from wood, and bringing it
under tillage. In 1326 the Abbot of
Scone granted a lease for life of his
lands of Girsmerland to Andrew de
Strivelyn. Henry Whitwell received
from the Abbot of Kelso a lease for
life of all the lands belonging to this
monastery in the parish of Dumfries,
interest, a short notice will be found in the
Illustrations, letters CC.

1 Cartulary of Scone, pp. 2, 6, 8.

2 Cartulary of Kelso, p. 247. Caledonia,
vol. i. p. 794.

for which the yearly rent was twelve
shillings; and numerous other in­
stances might be brought forward.
It was in this manner that there was
gradually introduced and encouraged
in the country a body of useful im­
provers, who were permitted, from the
pacific character of their landlords, to
devote their time more exclusively to
agricultural improvement than the
vassals or tenants of the barons.3

The system of agriculture pursued
at this early period must have been
exceedingly rude and simple in its de­
tails; and although it is difficult to
point out the exact mode of cultiva­
tion, yet some information with re­
gard to its general character, and the
crops then raised in the country, may
be found in the scattered notices of
contemporary historians, and in the
records and muniments of the times.
Oats, wheat, barley, pease and beans
were all raised in tolerable abundance.
Of these by far the most prevalent crop
was oats. It furnished the bread of
the lower classes ; and the ale which
they drank was brewed from malt
made of this grain. In the innumer­
able mills which are mentioned in the
Cartularies, great quantities of oats
were ground into meal; and at the
various malt-kilns and breweries which
we find attached throughout the same
records to the hamlets and villages,
equally large proportions of oats were
reduced into malt and brewed into
ale. In the Wardrobe Accounts of
Edward the First for the years 1299
and 1300, large quantities of oat malt,
furnished to his different garrisons in
Scotland, form some of the principal
items of expenditure. In the same
interesting and authentic record we
find that Edward’s cavalry in their
return from Galloway, in September
1300, destroyed in their march through
the fields eighty acres of oats upon
the property of William de Carlisle,
at Dornock, in compensation for which
the king allowed him two butts of
wine.4 It appears in the same series

3 Cartulary of Scone, p. 32. Cartulary of
Kelso, p. 829. Chamberlains’ Accounts, vol.
i. pp. 5, 12, 22. Cartulary of Inchcolm, p. 31.

4 Liber Cotidianus Crarderobć Edwardi I.,
p. 126.

2-10                                     HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.

of accounts that Edward bought his
oats, and oat malt to be brewed for
the army, at various rates, extending
from twenty pence to three shillings
per quarter. From the multitudes of
brew-houses with which every division
of the kingdom appears to have been
studded, from the royal manufactories
of ale down to those in the towns,
burghs, baronies, and villages, it is
evident that this beverage must have
been consumed in great quantities.

Although oats was the principal
grain raised in Scotland, yet wheat
was also cultivated to a considerable
extent, chiefly by the higher orders :
throughout the south and east districts
of the country, wheaten bread was
principally used at their tables; and
the quantities of this grain which the
Cartularies shew to have been ground
in the mills evince the consumption
to have been considerable. When
Edward, in the year 1300, invaded
Galloway, we find, by the Wardrobe
Account of that period, that he pur­
chased large quantities of wheat, which
was exported from Kirkcudbright to
Whitehaven and other ports in Cum­
berland. It was there ground, and
the flour sent back to supply the
English garrisons in Galloway and
Ayr. In the Wardrobe Account of
the same monarch for the year 1299,
it is stated that unground pease, for
the use of the English garrisons, were
furnished at the rate of two shillings
and ninepence, and beans for the
horses at four shillings and sixpence
the quarter. In addition to these
crops, extensive districts of rich na­
tural meadow, with the green sward
which clothed the forest glades, fur­
nished grass, which was made into hay,
and with all other agricultural pro­
duce, paid its tithe to the clergy.
The fields, the mountain grazings, and
the forests, were amply stocked with
cows, sheep, and large herds of swine,1
which fed on the beech mast. These
last formed the staple animal food of
the lower classes; for even the poor
bondman or cottager seems to have
generally possessed, in the territorium

1 Excerpt, ex Rotulo Compot. Temp. Alex.
III. pp. 12, 15.

of the village where he lived, a right
of common pasture for a sow and her

Another important part of the stock­
ing of the farms and the forests of
those times consisted in the numerous
horses which were reared by their
baronial proprietors. We learn from
the Cartularies that great care was
bestowed upon this interesting branch
of rural economy. Many of the nobles
had breeding studs upon their estates;2
and in the forests large herds of brood
mares, surrounded by their grown-up
progeny, and with their young foals at
their feet, ran wild, and produced a
hardy and excellent stock of little
horses, upon which the hobelers, or
light-armed Scottish cavalry, were
mounted, which, in the numerous
raids or invasions of England, under
Bruce, Randolph, and Douglas, so
cruelly ravaged and destroyed the
country. Distinguished from these
were the domestic horses and mares
employed in the purposes of agricul­
ture,3 in war, or in the chase. Both the
wild horses and those which had been
domesticated were of a small hardy
breed, excellently fitted for light
cavalry, but too diminutive to be em­
ployed as the great war-horse of the
knight, which had not only to bear
its master armed from head to foot in
steel, but to carry likewise its own
coat of mail. It is on this account
that we find the Scottish barons im­
porting a breed of larger horses from
abroad.4 Some idea may be formed of
the extent of the stud possessed by
the higher barons and the rich eccle­
siastical houses by an inventory which
is preserved in the Cartulary of New-

2 Cartulary of Melrose, p. 105. Cartulary
of Kelso, pp. 283, 284.

3 In the farming operations of ploughing
and harrowing, in the leading of hay, the
carting of peats, or taking in the corn during
the harvest, the wain driven by oxen appears
to have been principally employed, while the
conveyance of the agricultural produce to
any great distance was performed by horse-
labour. This appears from the minute de­
tails of the services due by the tenants of the
Abbey of Kelso, in the Cartulary of that rich
religious house. Cartulary of Kelso, p. 475.

4 Lord Douglas brings ten “ great horses”
into Scotland, 1st July 1352. Rotuli Scotić,
p. 752, vol. i.

ANCIENT STATE OF SCOTLAND.                           241

bottle. It states that the monks of
Melrose possessed in old times three
hundred and twenty-five forest mares
and horses, fifty-four domestic mares,
a hundred and four domestic horses,
two hundred and seven stags or young
horses, thirty-nine three-year colts,
and a hundred and seventy two-year-
old colts.

But that branch of rural economy
upon which the Scottish proprietors
of this period bestowed most atten­
tion was the rearing of large flocks of
sheep and herds of cattle.1 Sheep, in­
deed, chiefly abounded in the Low­
lands ; and, during the latter part of
the reign of David the Second, we have
seen the parliament interposing in
order to equalise the taxation of the
districts where sheep-farming was un­
known and the Lowland counties,
where the wool-tax fell heavily upon
the inhabitants; while, on another
occasion, “ white sheep” are exempted,
probably meaning those sheep which,
for the sake of producing a finer
quality of wool, had not been smeared
with tar.2 In a short time, however,
the northern as well as the southern
districts abounded in sheep, which
became a principal branch of the
wealth of the country. Their flesh
was consumed at the baron’s table;
their wool formed the chief article of
export, or was manufactured within
the kingdom into the coarser kind of
cloth for the farm servants;3 their
skins were tanned, and converted into
articles for home consumption, or ex­
ported to England and Flanders. In
like manner, the carcasses of the
beeves were consumed by the troops
of retainers, or exposed for sale in the
market of the burgh ; the skins were
exported in great quantities, both with

1 Excerpta ex Rotulo Compotorum, Temp.
Regis Alex. III. p. 11.

2 “White sheep” is the technical phrase
for sheep which are not smeared with tar in
the winter time. The smearing injures the
wool; and it is not improbable the exemption
from tax may have been with a view to the
production of wool better fitted to the pur­
poses of the manufacturer. Robertson, In­
dex to the Records, p. 117.

3 Charter of William the Lion to the burgh
of Inverness, printed in Wight on Elections,
p. 411.


and without the hair, or manufactured
into shoes, leather jackets, buff coats,
caps, saddles, bridles,and other articles
of individual comfort or utility. In
the more cultivated districts cows were
kept in the proportion of ten to every
plough; but in the wilder parts of the
country the number was infinitely
greater.4 Goats also were to be fouud
in some districts, chiefly in the wilder
and more mountainous parts of the

From the quantity of cheese which
appears to have been manufactured
on the royal demesnes throughout
Scotland, it is clear that the dairy
formed a principal object of attention ;6
and if such was the case upon the
lands of the crown, it is equally certain
that its proper management and eco­
nomy was not neglected by the clergy
or the barons. In the Cartulary of
Kelso, we find that David the First
conferred on the monks of that house
the tenth of the cheese which he re­
ceived from Tweeddale ; the same
prince gave to the monks of Scone the
tenth of the can of his cheese brought
in from his manors of Gowrie, Scone,
Cupar, and Forgrund; and to the
monks of Renclalgross, the tenth of
the cheese and corn collected from the
district round Perth.7 From the same
valuable class of records, which contain
the most interesting materials for the
civil history of the country, we learn
that, in addition to the more import­
ant branches already mentioned, poul­
try was carefully attended to in the
farm establishment; and it is through
the monks, the constant friends of
national comfort and good cheer, that
the fact is transmitted. As early as
under Malcolm the Fourth, the monks
of Scone, upon the feast of All Saints,
received from every ploughland within
their demesnes ten hens, along with
other farm produce; and from each
house of every hamlet or village on
the lands belonging to the Abbey of

4 Caledonia, vol. i. p. 798.
Robertson’s Parliamentary Records, p. 3.
Excerpta ex Rotulo Compot. Temp. Alex.
III. p. 11.
Cartulary of Kelso, p. 1; Cartulary of
Scone, p. 16; Cartulary of May, p.. 10.


242                                    HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.

Kelso, the abbot at Christmas received
a hen, for which he paid a halfpenny.1
It will be seen from these facts that
the state of Scotland with regard to
these necessaries, and even comforts of
life, which depend upon agricultural im­
provement, was respectable. Wheaten
loaves, beef, mutton, and bacon, be­
sides venison and game of all de­
scriptions, in rude abundance, were to
be found at the table of the greater
and lesser barons; while the lower
orders, who could look to a certain
supply of pork and eggs, cheese, but­
ter, ale, and oaten cakes, were un­
doubtedly, so far as respects these com­
forts, in a prosperous condition. Be­
sides this, both for rich and poor, there
was an inexhaustible supply of fish,
which abounded in the seas that
washed their coasts, and in the rivers
and lakes of the country. Herring and
salmon, cod and ling, haddocks, whit­
ing, oysters, trout, eels, and almost
every other species of fresh­water fish,
were caught in great quantities, and
formed an article of constant home
consumption,2 The pages of the vari­
ous Cartularies abound with proofs of
the assiduity and skill with which the
fisheries were pursued, and of the value
attached to them by their proprietors.
In the Wardrobe Accounts of Edward
the First, large quantities of herring
were purchased for the provisioning
of his Scottish garrisons ; and during
his campaigns of 1300 in that country,
he carried with him his nets and
fishers for the supply of the royal
table.3 Here, as in all other branches
of national wealth, the monks were
the great improvers, and by their skill
and enterprise taught the great barons
and the smaller landed proprietors,
with their vassals and bondsmen, how
much wealth and comfort might be
extracted out of the seas, the lakes,
and the rivers of their country. Stell
fishings, a word which appears to mean
a stationary establishment for the tak­
ing of fish, were frequent on the coast
of Ayrshire, on the shores of the Sol­
Cartulary of Scone, p. 16 ; Cartulary of
2 Robertson’s Parliamentary Records, p. 3.
Wardrobe Accounts of Edward I., pp.
121, 122, 143, 151.

way, and generally at the confluence
of the larger rivers with the sea. Be­
sides this, we find in the Cartularies
innumerable grants of retes, or the
right of using a single net within cer­
tain limits upon the river or lake
where it was established, and of yairs,
a mode of fishing by the construction
of a wattled machine within the stream
of the river, which was inserted be­
tween two walls, and of very ancient
use in Scotland. In the Cartulary of
Paisley, the Earl of Lennox, some
time before 1224, gave to the monks
of that religious house a yair fishing
in the river Leven, near Dumbarton.4
A contemporary manuscript in the
British Museum informs us, that in
the reign of David the First the Firth
of Forth was frequently covered with
boats, manned by Scottish, English,
and Belgic fishermen, who were at­
tracted by the great abundance of fish
in the vicinity of the Isle of May; 5
and we know from the accounts of the
Chamberlain of Scotland, that for the
use of the king’s household not only
large quantities of every kind of fish
were purchased by the clerk of the
kitchen, but that David the Second,
like Edward the First, kept his own
fishermen for supplying the royal

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