The church and the highlands

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their cattle upon part of the common land, and upon land held from a Flath. This latter dignity corresponded to the earl of later Anglo-Saxon times, and the Bà-Aire, who was not originally of noble birth, though a freeman, resembled the English Thane, whose importation into Scotland (after the abolition or suppression of the native titles of nobility, and the extinction of the Celtic system) has occasioned so much confusion to many of those who have treated of our Scottish concerns.

Such being, very briefly, the ancient construction of the institution of nobility among the Celtic people of Ireland and Scotland, there remain one or two points upon which some curiosity may be felt, and whose appropriate information we shall do our best to supply. In the first place, the different classes of ancient Scottish and Irish society, though originally possessing to a certain extent an ethni character, were not castes. In process of time a family could progress from the lowest to the highest rank, not by virtue of the process of having its blood and that of its descendants " ennobled "

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