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Haco's Expedition against Scotland


[1] Sudr-eyiar, (orig.). The Hebrides or southern division of the Scottish islands, so called in contradistinction to the Orkneys.

[2] Godred, Chrou-ban, i.e. the white handed, King of Man.

[3] Thursa sker (orig.) i.e. the giants' rocks, Thurso.

[4] Solunder-haf, (orig.) the Northern ocean. So called from the Soloe islands near that promontory of Norway called Stad. That species of sea fowl which frequent the Bass, probably received their name from being more commonly found in the Solund isles.

[5] Kiarna-borg, (orig.), Fl. Ms. Kianaborg, from the Irish carn a rock, and the Is. borg a castle. This castle was situated on a rocky islet near Mul. Fordun calls it Carnborg.

[6] Liod-hus, i.e. The residence of Liot. It is not unlikely that the isle of Lewes, & the family of McLeod were so named from Liod earl of Orkney.

[7] Kiarareyiar, in the Mss. Kiarbareyiar, the island Kiararey where Alexander died, suddenly, Jul. 8th. 1249.

[8] Perhaps the Author means Frissel afterwards Bishop of St Andrews; or Michael viz. de Weymyss, who was ambassador to Norway, A. D. 1290.

[9] Jarlin af Ros ok Kiarnakr son Makamals (orig.). The text here is much vitiated. The author might have read in some Irish accounts, Jarl na Ross (William) McKerchar, McCalom, i.e., the Earl of Ross (William) the son of Ferchard, the son of Malcolm. This William Mac Erchart was a young Hero, and is corruptly called Macentagart by the Scottish historians. Or perhaps, three persons may be alluded to, viz., the Earl of Ross, Kinneach-son (of Kintail), and a MacCamal of Lochaw, all powerful chieftains on the west coast of Scotland. It is, however, not impossible that Kiarnak was some ancient chieftain from whom a branch of the Grants was called Clan-Chiarnach. The Fl. Ms. for Makamals reads Machamals.

[10] I Skid (orig.). In the Fl. Ms. ístrid e. to war.

[11] The inhuman practice here described was common in those times. From the Landnamaboc we learn that Olver first discouraged this custom. We read, Olver did not permit tossing infants from spear to spear as was usual among pirates, and was therefore surnamed Barna-kall or the protector of Infants.

[12] Jol (orig.). The great brumal festival among the Scandinavians. Hence the Scotch word Yule, i.e., Christmas.

[13] Nid-ar-os (orig.), i.e., the mouth of the river Nid, now Drontheim.

[14] Vikor (orig.), now Bahus in Sweden.

[15] Elfa, the river at Gottenburg.

[16] An Earl of Sweden and father-in-law to Haco the younger.

[17] Liodhusa, a town of Sweden demolished a.d. 1268.

[18] May 3.

[19] i.e., the hilly country. Harald Harfager divided his kingdom into several counties, each of which was to fit out a squadron of ships on an emergency. The counties were again divided into skipreidor, or smaller districts, each of which furnished a single vessel properly equipped.

[20] i.e., an eminence, near Bergen.

[21] By banks of oars we are only to understand benches for the rowers.

[22] i.e., Cape-bay, near Bergen.

[23] An island and excellent harbour near Bergen.

[24] A celebrated poet, uncle to Sigvat Bodvarson, who attended Haco in this expedition, and from whom Sturla probably had his information of facts.

[25] The most northerly province of Norway.

[26] i.e., no warrior.

[27] The Scandinavian Scalds and Mythologists often represented treasures as guarded by monsters, dragons, sea snakes, &c. This notion probably originated from the fabulous tales of those who traded to the Indies. An ancient author, speaking of Scythia, says, “nam qvum in plerisque locis auro & gemmis affluant, Gryphorum immanitate, accessus hominum rarus est.”

[28] i.e., Haco.

[29] i.e., ships.

[30] Gestil, a famous sea king or pirate.

[31] Thareyiar-fiörd (orig.), perhaps a mistake for Faroeyiar-fiörd. Torfæus read it Barreyiarfiord.

[32] i.e., the column of pillars, perhaps the island Staffa.

[33] i.e., the promontory of deer, now Durnish.

[34] 7th of July.

[35] The Norwegians computed by winters: the Scotch did the same, as we see by Winton's chronicle:

“Thretty winters and four than
Edan regnyd Max Gowran.”

[36] Val-drosar (orig.), the Goddesses of Fate, or Valkyriæ, to whom armour was supposed sacred.

[37] i.e., Tribute—Ringa elldingom, (orig.), bright rings: Ringa signify not only rings, or bracelets, but also money; for before the introduction of coinage into the North, very thick spiral gold wires were worn round the wrists of great men, who distributed bits to those who performed any signal service; and such a wire is still to be seen in the Royal Museum at Copenhagen. It is not always easy to discern when by ringa is understood ornaments for the fingers, bracelets, rings of investiture, or the current money of the times.

[38] i.e., the islet, a monastery near Bergen.

[39] Afterwards chancellor of Norway.

[40] Probably the son of Dugal, the son of Somerled.

[41] The father of King Dugal was Rory, I suppose. See notes on pages 34 and 42.

[42] Nephew to Sturla author of the Ravens-ode. He attended Haco in this expedition.

[43] i.e. ships.

[44] i.e. sails.

[45] Bla-dufor (orig.), i.e. Blue pigeons. The Scalds frequently compared ships under sail to birds, horses, and other animals in motion.

[46] i.e. gold.

[47] i.e. ship.

[48] Kirkio-vog (orig.) i.e. Church-bay. Kirkwall.

[49] Breida-fiardar (orig.), i.e. Broad bay. The firth of Forth.

[50] St Olave's day, July 29.

[51] Mula in Irish and Icelandic signifies a cape or beak.

[52] Kata-nes (orig.), i.e. the promontory of Cadtav or Cathness. Cathness was particularly exposed to the inroads of the Norwegians. On this account great numbers of the inhabitants retired into Murray and the adjacent counties, where they were afterwards known by the name of Clan-Chattan.

[53] i.e., the promontory, or Cathness.

[54] Baug-gerdar (orig.), i.e. imposer of rings. Baug signifies anything circular, therefore, in compounded words, it is not easy to discern when it denotes rings or shields, &c. See note on ringa, p. 19.

[55] This eclipse happened on the 5th of August 1263.

[56] St Laurence's wake or vigil, 9th of Aug.

[57] Cathness by the ancient Britons was called Pentîr, i.e. the headland, whence the neighbouring firth had its name.

[58] i.e. John the Queen, perhaps the ancestor of the McQueens.

[59] Asleifarvik (orig.). Fl. MS., Hals-eyiar-vic.

[60] i.e. The old woman's rock. Cailleach in Irish, and kerling in Icelandic signify an old woman.

[61] i.e. The promontory. This island was so called because, from its propinquity to the opposite shore, it appeared like a cape. The old Venetian edition of Pliny has “Mella xxv mill. pass. amplior proditur;” in the other copies it is “Reliquarum nulla” &c. Hence the true reading appears to be Reliquarum Mulla &c.

[62] Ken-tîr, i.e. the promontory, a Peninsula in Scotland, Kintire.

[63] i.e. God's-Island. I take this to be Giga, or, as Fordon calls it, Gia, compounded of the Gaelic Dhia, God, and the Islandic ey, an island.

[64] Who this Margad was does not appear from history, I believe.

[65] Angus, Lord of Kintire and Ila, was grandson & heir of Reginald king of the isles. His posterity succeeded to the county of Ross, & John, the second Earl, A.D. 1449, gave to his Brother Hugh the Barony of Slate &c. Lord McDonald Baron of Slate, is the direct male representative of Reginald.

[66] i.e., rings or bracelets.

[67] i.e., ships.

[68] i.e. the sea.

[69] A celebrated adventurer or sea king.

[70] Rudri or Ruari is the Irish abbreviation of Roderic. The person here meant is, no doubt, the second son of King Reginald, & the same who in a donation to the abbey of Sandale, is stiled Rodericus de Kintire filius Reginaldi. This Roderic, it seems, besides Allan & Dougal, had another son Angus McRorie, Lord of Bute, whose daughter and heiress Jean was married to Alexander sixth Lord High Steward, Grand father to Robert II. King of Scotland. Robert, A.D. 1400., gave Bute to his son John from whom the present family of Bute is lineally descended.

[71] i.e. the Scotch.

[72] i.e. the Scotch.

[73] i.e. sea.

[74] i.e. ships.

[75] Irar. (orig.), i.e. Irish. As the native Irish had suffer'd so much from the Scandinavians it is improbable they would apply for assistance to the Siol Lochlin na beum. We may therefore reasonably conclude that the People here mentioned were the descendants of those Norwegians or Ostmen, who long inhabited the eastern coast of Ireland and founded some of its best towns. A. D. 1201 those Ostmen or Easterlings were still so considerable that, at a recognition taken of the diocese of Limerick, the arbitrators consisted of 12 English, 12 Irish, & 12 Ostmen. Edw. I. gave Gilchrist, William, & John Gilmorys, with other Ostmen in the County of Waterford, peculiar privileges; &, by the rolls of Edw. II. they evidently subsisted, as a distinct people, during the reign of that prince.

[76] Kumr-eyiar (orig.), i.e. the Islands of the Cumbrians, two small islands to the West of Scotland.

[77] Skipa-fiörd in Islandic, and Loch-Lhong, in Gaelic, signifies the Bay of Ships.

[78] Allan & Dougal his brother were, I imagine, the sons of Rudri (see the note on page 34.) This Allan we may suppose to be the same who, in Rymer's Fœdera, is called “Alanus filius Rotherici,” & who A. D. 1284 was one of the Barons that engaged to support Margaret of Norway's title to the crown of Scotland. Dugal was probably the predecessor of McDougal of Dunoly i.e. Olave's tower. The place might receive this name, from having been the residence of Olave, the youngest Son of Somerled thane of Argyle.

[79] To avoid long, or dangerous circumnavigations, it was usual for the antients to draw their light canoes over isthmuses. Among the Greeks such places were termed διολχοι i.e. dragging-places, and there was a very remarkable one near Corinth. By the Scotch they were called Tarbats, from the Gaelic tarn to draw, and baat a boat. There was a Tarbat between Loch-Lomond and Loch-Long.

[80] Alwin McArkel, as appears from the Chartulary of Glasgow, was created Earl of Levnach by Maol-Coluim IIII., A. D. 1153.

[81] No doubt the neighbouring inhabitants retired to the isles of Loch-Lomond in times of danger.

[82] i.e. Haco.

[83] i.e. without an awning.

[84] i.e. ships.

[85] i.e., the Scotch.

[86] Kerti-sveina (orig.), i.e. Inspectors of the Lights, who were to see that the Norwegian palace was properly illuminated. The office corresponded exactly to the Canhowllyd of the Welsh Princes.

[87] In the Fl. Ms. the Norwegians are said to have entered the transport.

[88] Fl. MS., Five hundred.

[89] Perus or Pherus (orig.), probably Fergus.

[90] A quotation from Giraldus's account of the Irish will both illustrate this passage & the antient method of fighting. “Utuntur—securibus quoque amplis, fabrili diligentiâ optimè chalybatis, quas a Norwegiensibus & Oustmannis sunt mutuati. Unâ tantum manu, & non ambabus, securi percutiunt, pollice desuper manubrium in longum extenso ictu regente, a quo nec galea, caput, in conum erecta, nec reliquum corpus ferrea loricæ tricatura tuetur. Unde & in nostris contigit temporibus totam militis coxam ferro utcunque fideliter vestitam, uno securis ictu præcisam fuisse, ex unâ equi parte coxâ cum tibiâ, ex altera verò, corpore cadente moribundo. Lapides quoque pugillares, cum alia arma defecerint, hostibus in conflictu damnosissimos, præ alia gente promptius, & expeditius ad manum habent.”

[91] Knights at their creation were invested with belts ornamented with gems. See Malmsb., book 2, chap. 6.

[92] A district of Norway.

[93] Melanzeiar (orig.). Fl. Ms. Melas eyiar, perhaps the island of Lamlash or Alisa.

[94] Mylar-Kalf (orig.). Among the Norwegians a small island adjoining to a greater was called its calf, as the calf of Mull, the calf of Man, &c.

[95] A subdivision of Norway.

[96] Yngua (orig.), one of Haco's predecessors.

[97] Hvarf, (orig.), signifies an intervening ridge that intercepts the prospect—Farohead.

[98] Giafiörd (orig.) Fl. Ms. Goa-fiörd.

[99] October 28.

[100] Asmundar-vogi (orig.), i.e., Asmund's Bay.

[101] Probably some harbour of the Mainland, one of the Orkneys.

[102] A cape of Pomona.

[103] December 13.

[104] i.e. Herring bay.

[105] i.e. Salmon bay.

[106] March 21.

[107] Here it must be observed that the Norwegian year commenced March 25. So that, according to our reckoning, Haco died in March 1264.

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