The church and the highlands



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1 Preface to Armorial Families.

years," he says,1 "one family (that of Lloyd of Stockton)' has proved and recorded' in the archives of that institution (the English College of Heralds) three hundred and twenty-three quarters to its coat of arms, consisting largely of coats assigned to ' British kings'—in Planchè's words—' as visionary as those in Banquo's glass'. We are indebted for this remarkable information to Mr. Fox Davis' Armorial Families, in which this monstrous shield is depicted as well as described. Among the anns there recognised as authentic by the Heralds College are those of a potentate who died in 318, as well as those of Coel Godebog, that primitive and convivial soul. We further learn that 'the present representative (of the family of Lloyd of Stockton) 'is sixty-seventh in descent, in an un­broken male line, of Belinus the Great (Beli Mawr), King of Britain, as shown by the records fully registered down to the present time in His Majesty's College of Arms'. The arms of Beli himself appear repeatedly in the shield, on the strength, of course, of this pedigree proved by ' Records' to what must be the early days of the Christian era. One is glad to know (Mr. Bound very pertinently observes) what' Records' mean at ' His Majesty's College of Arms'."

Mr. Fox Davis is guilty, of course, of an un­pardonable anachronism in placing the arms of Belinus the Great (whoever he may have been) upon a feudal shield. His blind respect for the College of Arms and all its works has evidently betrayed him ; for it is difficult to understand how it can be otherwise, in view of his very explicit statement which we have quoted above, namely,
1 Studies in Peerage and Family History, p. xii., Preface.

that "we are still without any definite evidence that such a thing as a coat of arms, in the sense in which we now understand the term, had any existence whatsoever at the time of the First Crusade". For our own parts, we can only add, that we should be grateful for an opportunity of inspecting the " Records" (at the English College of Heralds) on which this unique performance is based.

Thus far, and no farther for the present, by way of introduction to the topic which we design to discuss in this paper, which is that of the shield among our forefathers. It is unnecessary for our purpose to enter upon any lengthy discussion as to the origin and uses of the shield by primitive peoples. Suffice it to state that the period of its coming is before the advent of authentic history; and that the Celts of old were perfectly familiar with it. In its primitive form the Gaelic shield was made of wicker-work "like the shields of the Homeric heroes, and those of the old Germanic and Scandinavian warriors".1 It was made in two shapes, oblong or oval and round. The latter, however, was by far the more popular. After a time these osier shields were superseded by shields made of wood, which in their turn gave place to shields made of bronze and iron. Wooden shields, however, continued in use long after the introduction of shields made of metal. In Scot­land, shields made of wood, covered with hide and embellished with brass nails, were used in warfare so late as 1745.

^'Curry's Lectures, Introduction, p. 444. ' It is here worthy of note that when the Earl of Mar drew op his " Scheme for restoring Scotland to its ancient military

In early times, shields were painted in plain colours. The most usual colours were white, crimson-red, brown-red, yellow and black.2

1 Those that were made of wood and covered with leather " were often whitened with lime, or chalk, which was allowed to dry and harden, as soldiers now pipe-clay their belts ".Most shields were embellished with designs of the now familiar zoomorphic type; but it would appear that the nobles and chiefs were more ad­dicted to what would now be termed "heraldic devices ". " The shields of the ancient Irish appear to have been ornamented with devices which seem to have been peculiar, if not to each Tuath (province), at least to each chief."2

3 According to an ancient legend, quoted by O'Curry, " there was a law made by the Ultonian knights that they should have silver shields (that is, shields orna­mented with silver) made for them; and that the carved device of each should be different from those of all the others ". The same author quotes an extract from the Yellow Booh of Lecaàn (a manuscript of about the year 1390, preserved in Trinity College, Dublin) in which it is stated that
spirit" (1723) —a scheme, by the way, which was accepted by James VIII. and would undoubtedly have been carried out had that unfortunate sovereign enjoyed his own—he recommended that the Highlanders be " cloathed in the Highland habit with plaids, west coats and trews in the winter, which may be of different colours, and different marks on their targets, as their chiefs shall think fit, to distinguish what regiment they belong to".

1 O'Curry, Introduction, p. 470. The shields of the nobles were frequently jewelled.

a A Social History of Ancient Ireland. By P. W. Joyce, vol. i., p. 129.

8 O'Curry, Introduction, p. 470.

" Lumman was a name for every shield; that is, Leoman a lion; because there is no shield without the picture of a lion inscribed on it, in order that its hatefulness and its terror might be the greater; because the lion is a furious, combative, fighting animal; and it was through charms and incanta­tions that this was done". Professor Sullivan, however, in his Introduction to O'Curry throws doubt upon this passage. "The gloss," he says, "quoted by O'Curry on Lumman, one of the names for a shield in Irish, which explains that word to be Leoman a lion may likewise be referred to here. I, however, attach very little value to this gloss written in the year 1390, when the use of armorial devices on shields was universal." It is worthy of note, however, that the information supplied by this extract finds some confirmation in a footnote to Campbell's Tales of the West Highlands (vol. iii., p. 373), wherein that author observes with regard to the story of Manus, "when the old man (his informant) told me the story, he described devices on the shield of Manus, and a lion was one of them. This, probably, is founded on some lion on a flag.1 According to Gaelic poems, Fionn's people had banners with devices on them, and Icelandic warriors had devices on their armour in the ninth century, according to the Njal Saga." With re­spect to the lion on the Scottish royal standard, concerning whose original there has been consider­able discussion, some authors have been pleased to regard it as of Norse extraction. It would appear more reasonable to believe, however, especially in

By no means necessarily so, however, since we know that the ancient Celts, like other nations, were in the habit of decorating their shields with emblems taken from the animal world.

view of what is set forth above, that it can boast a Celtic origin. Moreover, it is to be here observed, that the Irish annals would not have been so particular to account for the devices borne by eminent individuals among other nations, if a similar practice had not existed among themselves. "They inform us,1 that Hector, the Trajan hero, bore, sable, two lions combatant, or; that Osiris bore a sceptre royal ensigned on the top with an eye; Hercules bore a lion rampant holding a battle-axe; the arms of the kingdom of Macedon were a wolf; Anubis bore a dog . . .; the Egyptians bore an ox; the Phrygians, a swine (sic); the Thracians painted the god Mars upon their banners; the Romans an eagle; and the Persians, bows and arrows." Of course, the use of modern heraldic expressions in these descriptions of arms is absurd in the extreme; and though we do not know it for certain, yet we probably have to thank the trans­lator of Keating for this ridiculous anachronism; but the extract itself is sufficiently interesting and important, and taken in conjunction with what we can learn of this topic from other sources, whose reliability is beyond all question, we may safely regard it as certain that the ancient Scots did embellish their shields in the manner already described, and, what is more, that the shield so ornamented was peculiar to the individual, and corresponded, in nearly every particular, to our modern coats of arms.

The great point of difference, however, between these shields and feudal arms is, that the former


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