Archaeological Essays, Vol. 1

Archaeological Essays, Vol. 1

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Project Gutenberg's Archaeological Essays, Vol. 1, by James Y. Simpson This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org Title: Archaeological Essays, Vol. 1 Author: James Y. Simpson Editor: John Stuart Release Date: November 28, 2008 [EBook #27354] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK ARCHAEOLOGICAL ESSAYS, VOL. 1 *** Produced by David Clarke, Graeme Mackreth and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive/American Libraries.) ARCHÆOLOGICAL ESSAYS BY THE LATE [Pg iii] SIR JAMES Y. SIMPSON, BART. M.D., D.C.L. ONE OF HER MAJESTY'S PHYSICIANS FOR SCOTLAND, AND PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE AND MIDWIFERY IN THE UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH EDITED BY JOHN STUART, LL.D. SECRETARY OF THE SOCIETY OF ANTIQUARIES OF SCOTLAND VOL. I. EDINBURGH EDMONSTON AND DOUGLAS PUBLISHERS TO THE SOCIETY OF ANTIQUARIES MDCCCLXXII Printed by R. & R. CLARK , Edinburgh. [Pg iv] [Pg v] THE EDITOR'S PREFACE. The late Sir James Simpson, in the midst of his anxious professional labours, was wont to seek for refreshment in the pursuit of subjects of a historical and archæological character, and to publish the results in the Transactions of different Societies and in scientific journals. Some of these papers are now scarce, and difficult of access; and a desire having been expressed in various quarters for their appearance in a collected and permanent form, I was consulted on the subject by Sir Walter Simpson, who put into my hands copies of the various essays, with notes on some of them by his father, which seemed to indicate that he himself had contemplated their republication. Having for a long time been acquainted with their merits, I did not hesitate to express a strong opinion in favour of their publication; and I accepted with pleasure the duty of editing them, which Sir Walter requested me to perform. The papers in question were the fruit of inquiries begun indeed as a relief from [Pg vi] weightier cares; but as it was not in their author's nature to rest satisfied with desultory and superficial results in his treatment of any subject, so his archæological papers more resemble the exhaustive treatises of a leisurely student, than the occasional efforts of one overwhelmed in professional occupations. In the present work will be found all the more important archæological papers of Sir James Simpson, collected from the various sources indicated in the Table of Contents. The subjects to the antiquities of which Sir James first directed his attention were connected with his own profession; but, as time went on, his interest in historical pursuits deepened and expanded, and the questions discussed by him became more varied. It has been thought best to arrange the papers of a general historical scope in the first volume, and those connected with professional antiquities in the second; but readers, who may wish to trace the order in which they were written by the author, will find their various dates in the Table. The first paper, entitled "Archæology, its Past and its Future Work," was prepared as a lecture to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. This was done with a care and elaboration which are not always associated with such efforts; and, whether in indicating the object and end of the archæological student's pursuits,—sketching the past progress of the study,—and specifying the lines of research from which Scottish inductive archæology may be expected to derive [Pg vii] additional data and facts,—nothing more thoroughly practical could be desired; while in his resumé of the difficulties and enigmas peculiar to Scottish antiquities, he may be said to have left none of them untouched, his passing allusions being, in many instances, suggestive of their solution. The paper on "An old Stone-roofed Cell or Oratory in the Island of Inchcolm" affords an instance of the author's careful observation, and his fertility of illustration. The humble structure in question, which, at the time when it first attracted Sir James Simpson's notice, was used as a pig-stye, had few external features to suggest the necessity of farther inquiry; but after his eye had become accustomed to the architecture of the early monastic cells in Ireland, its real character flashed upon him, and he found that his conclusions coincided with the facts of the early history of the island. These he gleaned from many sources, but in grouping them into a picture he enriched his narrative with various instructive notes; as on the "Mos Scotticum" of our early buildings; a comparison of the ruin with the Irish oratories; notices of other Island Retreats of Saints, and of the Saints themselves. In one of these he gives an instructive reference to a passage in the original Latin text of Boece about the round tower of Brechin, which had been overlooked by his translator [Pg viii] Bellenden, and so was now quoted for the first time. A copy of this paper on Inchcolm having been sent to his friend Dr. Petrie of Dublin, author of the well-known essay on the "Early Ecclesiastical Architecture and Round Towers of Ireland," it was returned after a time, enriched with many notes and illustrations. In now reprinting the paper these have been added, and are distinguished from the author's notes by having the letter P annexed to them. The subject of the Inchcolm oratory was one about which this great man felt much interest, and on which he could speak from the abundance of his knowledge and experience. The notes are therefore of special value, as furnishing the latest views of the author on mooted points of Celtic Ecclesiology, while they are conspicuous for the modesty and candour which were combined with Dr. Petrie's vast learning on the subject. Thus, in his work on the Round Towers, Dr. Petrie assigned "about the year 1020" as the date of the round tower of Brechin, but in one of the notes he corrects himself, and explains the origin of his mistake:—"The recollection of the error which I made, by a carelessness not in such matters usual with me, in assigning this date 1020, instead of between the years 971 and 994, as I ought to have done, has long given me annoyance, and a lesson never to trust to memory in dates; for it was thus I fell into the mistake. I had the year 1020 on my mind, which is the year assigned by Pinkerton for the writing of the Chron. Pictorum, and, without stopping to remember or to refer,