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In a work like this, purporting to be descriptive of only a small tract of country, frequently alluded to in various forms, by the poet, it is scarcely possible to avoid a sort of tautology while speaking of the different manners in which the scenes are noticed : at the same time to arrange the following citations and remarks under separate heads, would require more time than the author can well bestow on the subject : besides, he thinks that it would be no furtherance of his object, but on the contrary tend to divest them of a portion of their strength and argument. Were it possible to trace Fingal, and his son, with that precision that we can the hero of the Æneid from his setting out from Troy to his landing in Italy; then, indeed, we might insist upon order of time in the quotations ; but every reader of Ossian’s Poems is aware that their unison will by no means answer the purpose of such uniformity; for in one page the hero is bounding over the waves to Lochlin, and in the next, at the feast of shells in Morven, or in battles of the spear on Lena. The interim often unaccounted for.
It is now for me to add, that this work, trifling as it may seem, has cost me more exercise of intellect, than a work ten times larger has done, which is now before the Public,
London, May, 1819.
To my NOBLE FRIEND,
EARL OF BREADALBANE,
&c. &c. &c.
The following proofs of the existence of the Bard of our forefathers, which have so long been a desideratum in British literature, are respectfully inscribed by,
HUGH Y. CAMPBELL. London, May 26th, 1819.
As the celebrated Lord Kames, and Doctors Blair and Whittaker, have employed their time in attempting to ascertain the existence and æra of Ossian, and have by no means succeeded; so, in a collateral walk, I beg leave to lay some brief observations and remarks before the public; which, after a considerable portion of investigation, I have been enabled to make on the Battle Fields of Fingal in Ireland.
Although in the remarks I am often led to offer my opinion from analogy of names of places, &c. yet I will be answerable for the correctness of any observations I have made on the face of the country, during my brief tour, and in the following enquiry. I have only to regret, that the many similitudes and allusions, which I have quoted to strengthen my conjectures, are unarranged in due order of time. To answer my purpose, I was led to cite many in a desultory manner, as I met them in my progress through the books of Fingal, Death of Cuchullin, Temora, &c. the only ones in which any mention is made of Ireland.
After a lapse of sixteen hundred years, it is an acknowledged difficult task to come to any correct determination on the identical places mentioned by Ossian, as frequented by rude warriors, wholly unacquainted with the arts and sciences—at least, by people who have left but few conspicuous monuments of their battles and victories after them, farther than a few rough stones, often in the way of the plough ; and, consequently, liable to be removed at the will of the agriculturist.
Difficult, however, as the task may seem, I have several years considered it capable of being accomplished partly, if not wholly ; but from boyhood I have been unremittingly employed in the ser. vice of my country; hence my wishes to attempt the discovery of
Fingal's Battle Fields have been hitherto thwarted, and the attempt consequently delayed.
In unison with my early established wish to know the fields of heroes, I lately proceeded to Ireland, and there commenced a laborious observation on the situation, and an enquiry into the names of the districts, of that part of Ulster, which lies opposite to the coast of Scotland; where I was so far fortunate as soon to discover what I considered a key to the wished for object; but this was not easily ascertained.
Every reader of history is acquainted with the actions of the protector, Cromwell, in Ulster, and his more than retaliation of the cruelties of the Papists on the Protestants. His laying Ulster waste, by killing, or driving the Catholics to the south and west of Ireland, and planting the north with colonies from England and Scotland, have almost effectually shut out from the enquirer after antiquities, a great portion of the traditional information which he might otherwise have obtained from the descendants of the Aborigines.
Now, as I found many of the best informed people in Ulster, wholly unacquainted with the original names of places in the neighbourhood of the then only imaginary scenes of Fingal's actions in that province; and, as history is almost! silent on the battles fought by the invincible king of Morven, in favor of his kinsman of the race of Connor ; so we may conclude, that the analogy of the places mentioned by Ossian, and the similarity of a few names, aided by the locality and trifling remains of ancient magnificence and warfare, can only enable us to come to any reasonable conclusion on the identical fields of battles, fought by the kings of Erin, Lochlin and Morven.
I have farther to observe, that, as this work originated in mine own mind, and as in it I fearlessly oppose Rocks, Mountains, Rivers, Lakes, and Heaths to the vague and chimerical assertions brought forward by bigotted sticklers for and against the authenticity of Ossian; and as it has been matured by considerable trouble, expense and research, so I deny having received the slightestassistance from any author or from any work—the whole has emanated from mine own industry, and the elegant description of the first of British Bards, whom I shall here, feebly, perhaps attempt to authenticate!
Having thus premised, I now proceed to offer my observations to the public; and to crave that indulgence which such an apparent outré proceeding requires.
The trifling analogy of some parts of the Poem, alone show us that the Emperor Caracalla lived about this period; but I know of no Roman writer who notices any of the exploits sung by Ossian.
Bating the fanciful assertions of the Irish historians, Keating and O'Flaherty, which have been long since rendered nugatory, we find that the frequent descents of Fingal on the coast of Ireland, were wholly occasioned by the distress and wants of his kinsman, the king of Ulster, or of Ireland, by the following descent.
Trenmor, the great-grandfather of Fingal, had two sons ; Trathal, the grandfather of Fingal; and Connor, called by the bards, Connor the Great. He was elected king of all Ireland,' and was the ancestor of that Cormac who sat on the Irish throne, when Swaran, king of Norway, invaded Ireland.
The principal residence of this race of monarchs, we find, was at Te-mora in Ulster! This Te-mora, Ossian tells us, was at the foot of the hill of Mora, which rose near the borders of the heath of Moi-lena, near the mountain Cromla.
Before I can offer my observations on Te-mora, I find it necessary to go back to the coast of Ulster. We are often told by the royal bard, that he rushed into Carmona's bay, ? and into Tura's bay; thence we see frequent allusions to Cromla, Lena, and the lake of reedy Lego; all, apparently, in the neighbourhood of these two places. This account of the poet makes the Carmona of the ancients, the Pisgah whence I have discovered the land promised to my exertions by hope.
There is no difficulty whatever in ascertaining the ancient Carmona to be the modern Carmony. It stands on the hill, a little from the shore, between Carrickfergus and Belfast—which Carrickfergus, there is not the slightest doubt in my mind, was the Tura of the ancients; but of Tura more hereafter. Here commen. ces that range of hills, which in the poems I take to have been called] Lena with Cromleach, (i. e. high hill in the centre) that extend in a south-west direction; and after running as the boundary of the extensive and fertile valley of Ulster, through which flows the river Legon, (reedy Lego,) the range terminates above Lochneagh, (lake of Roes,) at, or near, a place now called Cromlin, from the ancient Cromleach !
I would here observe, that the election of Connor to the supreme governo ment of Ireland, (which makes such a conspicuous place in one of the notes to the poems of Ossian) appears to have never been acknowledged by the native hereditary princes of that country; and that it required all the assistance of his friends of Morven, united to the exertions of his adhering subjects, to retain for hiinself and race, the small portion of Ulster, which the map will show you bounded on the east and west by the rivers Legon and Banu, and on the north and south by Lochneagh, and the Irish Sea. "If such an election took place, it is but natural to imagine that it was dictated by the wants of some puisne prirce, whose power or right was doubted by his neighbouring chieftains; and, consequently, like the later case, that called Strongbow, Earl of Pembroke, to Ireland; and ultimately vested the lordship of that excellent island in the hands of the English monarch.
2 Carmona's Bay (i. e. Bay of dark brown hills) an arın of the Sea in the neighbourhood of Selma. This powerfully supports my opinion noted in the appendix, that the white house between Belfast and Carrickfergus and on the shore below Carinona, is the Selma of Ossian.
The part of the range, however, which the bard calls Misty Cromla, I take to be that high hill of lime-stone, which stands between Carmona and Belfast : that from three large and beautiful caves cut in the face of the rock or mountain, is now called Cave. hill; and, at different seasons of the year, a place much frequented by the inhabitants of Belfast. The address to the Druid occurred to my memory on visiting two of these celebrated and beautiful caves, (the third being unapproachable ;) ~ Why, son of the cave of the rock,” &c. I may here observe, that those caves were certainly places of shelter and worship to the early inhabitants of these countries.
In the first book of Fingal, we find Cuchullin sitting by the wall of Tura, (a castle on the coast of Ulster,) his spear
leaned against the mossy rock, while the other chiefs had gone on a hunt. ing party to Cromla, a neighbouring hill. Now as the analogy of the scenes had almost clearly expressed the Cave-hill of the moderns, to have been the Cromla of the ancients; so it is only natural to imagine, that this castle of Tura, alluded to on the coast of Ulster, is the Carrick, or by some Craig-fergus castle of our times : of which, like Dundonald castle, in Ayrshire, there are no authentic records when it was built! From the celebrated hill of Cromla, Carrickfergus castle is only about four miles distant; and it is situated on a rock on the shore, in which is a spacious cave, and opposite to Scotland, consequently the most likely place to effect a landing from that country: being bounded on either side by a fine sandy beach, and in the immediate neighbourhood of Temora, the royal residence.
To know that Carrickfergus castle has no rival in antiquity on the coast of Ulster, or rather I should say, on the coast of Ireland, is an almost indubitable proof that the Tura of the ancients is the very spot now known by that name! To infer otherwise, I think from consistent analogy, would be a perversion of reason, and a mark of injustice to the manes of the royal bard.
Having thus briefly ascertained Tura, Cromla, Lena, &c. we read that the river Lubar ran between Cromla and the hill of
By the noun Cromleuch, the ancients seem to have understood a place of Druidical worship, which was generally performed in the most solemn, grand and imposing places. Hence I think ihe magnitude of the Cave-hill, with its grand and solemn scenery and silent caves, go far to affirm that it was a place sacred to the devotion of our ancestors.