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Public Rooms, Aberdeen
WONDERS OF SCOTLAND.
THE early history of Scotland being so much involved in obscurity, and so much controversy having taken place amongst the learned and unlearned, respecting the origin of the inhabitants; and the questions which have been agitated, being still nearly as far from being settled as ever, it is not to be supposed that, in a work like the present, the author should enter the arena of strife, and attempt to determine, where so many have failed of producing conviction.
Under the head of British Antiquities, he classes such as appear to him to have existed prior to the Romans arriving in the island. Under the head Roman Antiquities, such as appear to owe their origin to that great people ; and under the head of Pictish Antiquities, objects of very remote origin, not included under the two preceding heads. But in making this arrangement, the object is not to fix chronological eras, but to describe the more interesting wonders as they now exist,
FORT NEAR THE TWEED. This is an ancient fort, which occupies the crest of an eminence, near the junctions of the rivers Tweed and Ettricke. It is one of the most perfect works of the ancient Britons. Their usual mode of fortification was with ditches, single or double, occupying the angles of the eminences, which were naturally selected for their site, and being of course irregular in their form. The earth was thrown up so as to form a glacis to the outside, and was sometimes faced with stones, in order to add to its height, and increase the acclivity. This formed the rampart of the place, and the gates, generally two or three in number, were placed where access was most convenient. Such is the fortress we are describing. Though in the neighbourhood of higher hills, it is too far distant to be commanded by them in a military sense. There are two ramparts, the first of earth and loose stones, but the interior consists of immense blocks of stone, disposed so as to form a rude wall, and faced with earth and turf within. The permanence of these massive materials, seems to have insured that of the building, for they defy all ordinary efforts of the agriculturist. The fortress has two gates, one to the east, and the other to the west, with something like traverses for protecting and defending the approach. This remarkable fortress is surrounded by others of less consequence, serving as out-posts, and it has evidently been a hill-fort of great importance to the ancient inhabitants.
WHITE AND BROWN Cather Thun. The White and the Brown Cather Thun are two very remarkable British posts in Strathmore, about five miles westward from Brechin, situated on two contiguous hills, which form the eastern extremity of a small range, which run parallel to the Grampian mountains, on the south side of the West Water, which falls into the North Esk, at the church of Stickatro. These posts stand at the distance of about a mile from each other, and are both very remarkable, particularly the first, on account of the hugeness of its rampart of stone. These works are clearly not Roman, and are supposed to have been Pictish, from the Picts inhabiting this region ; but of their construction, neither history nor tradition gives us any information.
The White Cather Thun (so called on account of the light colour of the stones, of which its rampart is composed) is about one hundred yards of perpendicular height above the level of Strathmore. The most wonderful circumstance about it is the astonishing dimensions of the rampart, composed entirely of very large loose stones, being at least 25 feet at the top, and upwards of 100 feet at bottom, reckoning quite to the ditch ; which seems, indeed, to be greatly filled up by the tumbling down of the stones. The vast labour that it must have cost to amass so considerable a quantity, surpasses all description. A simple earthen breastwork surrounds the ditch, and beyond this, at the distance of about fifty yards on the two sides, but seventy on each end, there is another double intrenchment of the same sort running round the slope of the hill. The intermediate space served probably as a camp for the troops, a part of which only could be contained in the interior part from its smallness. The entrance is by a single gate at the east end ; but opposite to it there are two leading through the outer intrenchment, between which a circle projects, no doubt for containing some men posted there, as an additional security to that quarter. The whole is in the form of an oval. It is in length 436 feet by 200 in breadth. In the space within the innermost rampart is a prætorium, of a rectangular form.
The Brown Cather Thun is so called from the colour of its rampart, which is overgrown with heath. It approaches in its form to a circle, and it is not so high as the last described. It is fortified with five slight intrenchments, of which that in the centre may probably have served as a prætorium. The next to it is the strongest, and has no fewer than seven gates. These without it have likewise several openings, for the sortie of the garrison.
THE HILL FORT OF THE BARMEKYNE, IN
ABERDEENSHIRE. The Barmekyne is an insulated conical hill of considerable height, deriving its name from the ancient fortress that occupies its summit. It rises near the centre of the district of Echt, of which it forms a very beautiful and striking feature, and from the steepness of its acclivity has hitherto remained protected from the invasion of the plough.