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Chapter 5: The Discourse Of Ros, Stranauerne, & Murrey Land, With The Lakes Riuers, And Notable Townes In Them.

BEYOND the water of Spanze lieth Ros, sometime called Lugia, a verie narrow region (God it wote) but running out in great length through the middest of the Iland, being enuironed on both sides with the ocean. That portion thereof which lieth néerest to the Irish seas, is verie difficult for such as trauell by the countrie, by reason of the high mounteins, which maketh the countrie more apt for wild beasts than mankind to inhabit: neuerthelesse waxing more fertill on that part which stretcheth toward the German sea, it yeeldeth it selfe to culture, and rendreth some graine. In pasture also it is not altogither vnprofitable, sith there is good grasse and verie batable for their heards: for the vallies there, being watered with sundrie pleasant streames, doo yeeld a sweet and verie sauorie grasse, wherewith all sorts of cattell are verie much delighted. In Ros are sundrie lakes, but Lochbrun is the greatest. There are also manie fresh riuers, fraught with excellent fish, and finallie a nota. ble firth or safe hauen called Cromart, wherevnto diuers in time of necessitie doo resort, to auoid the danger of shipwracke, that otherwise would assuredlie annoy them. The Scotish men call it Heill of shipmen. In this region moreouer is the towne called Thane, where the bones of Dutho an holy man (as they say) doo rest, & are had in greater estimation among the superstitious sort (as sometime ouer the whole Iland) than the holie gospell of God and merits of his sonne, whereby we are onelie saued. Two ancient houses are likewise mainteined in one vale of the Ros, whose formes resemble so manie belles, but to what end as yet I doo not find. Next vnto the said Ros lieth the Stranauerne, as the vttermost region of Scotland, the coasts whereof abutting for a while vpon the Deucalidon sea, doo afterward turne againe toward the Almain seas, hauing partlie the Deucalidon coast, and partlie Cathnesse vpon the north side, Southerland on the east, Rossia on the south, and Deucalidon againe vpon the west. There are thrée great crags or points lieng on the vttermost side of Stranauerne, that is to saie, the Hoie, Howbrun (the greatest of the thrée) and Downisbie, which bicause they shoot farre off into the sea, doo make two great firths and lakes, each of them being seuerallie distinguished from other.

Next vnto Cathnesse lieth Southerland, a profitable region both for graine and all kinds of prouision, but chieflie for the nourishment of bestiall, wherevnto it chieflie inclineth, as doo the other two last before rehearsed. On the further side also of this lieth Murrey land, sometime called Vararis, although the marches thereof are changed from that they were of old. For whereas in time past all the region lieng betweene Spaie and Nesse to the Ireland sea, was named Murrey; now it is knowne to be onlie beyond the water of Spaie & Kissocke, & reacheth on vntill it come to the Irish sea. Betwixt Ros and Murrey land, is a great baie, and likewise a descent of sundrie waters: for thereinto fall the Nesse, Narden, Findorne, Los and Spaie, whereof this latter runneth with so fierce & violent a streame, that the force of the sea at the floud striuing to enter into the same, is put back, & may not resist the inuincible fall, and beates backe the water that descendeth into the ocean. The Nesse issueth out of a lake of the same name (which is not passing 8 miles from the said plash, from whence the Lochtie runneth) & thence goeth into the Irish seas: and this propertie it hath, that neither the streame, neither the lake it selfe will yeeld to be frozen in the verie deepe of winter. Such also is the force thereof, that if anie yce or anie frozen substance be cast thereinto, it will by and by relent and dissolne againe to water, whereby it becommeth verie profitable for such cartell as are benummed with cold. In the mouth of the Nesse, standeth a towne called Inuernesse, where sometime was great abundance of herring taken, but now they be gone by the secret working of God. The common people put the fault in the rich & men of higher calling, who enuieng the commoditie of the poore inhabitants, will often séeme to bereue them of this emolument, by force and slaughter. Whervpon (as they say) it commeth to passe, that the increase eftsoones decaieth, and verie small store is taken there by manie yeares after such iniurie offered.

But to procéed: beside Lochnesse, which is 24 miles of length, and foure in bredth, by reason of the great woods there standing, is great store of sauage beasts, as harts, wild horsses, roes, and such like. There are likewise martirns, beuers, foxes & wezels, whose skins and cases are sold vnto strangers at huge and excessiue prices. In Murrey land also is not alonelie great plentie of wheat, barlie, otes, and such like graine, beside nuts and apples, but likewise of all kinds of fish, especiallie of samon. The people thereof in like sort doo vse a strange maner of fishing: for they make a long weele of wicker, narrow necked, and wide mouthed, with such cunning, that when the tide commeth, the fish shoot themselues into the same, and foorthwith are so inclosed that whilest the tide lasteth he cannot get out, nor after the water is gone escape the hands of the fishers. In this region moreouer is a lake named Spiney, wherein is excéeding plentie of swans.

The cause of their increase in this place is ascribed to a certeine herbe, which groweth there in great abundance, and whose séed is verie pleasant vnto the said foule in the eating, wherefore they call it Swangirs: and herevnto such is the nature of the same, that where it is once sowne or planted, it will neuer be destroied, as may be prooued by experience. For albeit that this lake be fiue miles in length, and was sometime within the remembrance of man verie well stored with samon and other fish, yet after that this herbe began to multiplie vpon the same, it became so shallow, that one may now wade through the greatest part thereof, by meanes wherof all the great fishes there be vtterlie consumed. In this portion furthermore, is the church of Pette, where the bones of little Iohn remaine in great esti-This was no Scot but an Englishman, fled into Ireland, and then into Scotland mation. Certes his carcasse hath béene 14 foot long, his members well proportioned according to his stature, and not fullie six yéeres before this booke was written (by Boetius) he saw his hanch bone, which séemed so great as the whole thigh of a man, and he did thrust his arme into the hollownesse thereof, wherby it appeareth what mightie people grew vp in our region before they were ouercome with gluttonie and excesse. In this quarter finallie is the towne called Elgin, not farre from the mouth of Spaie, and therin is a cathedrall church furnished with canons: there are thereto sundrie rich and verie wealthie abbeies in Murrey, as Killos of the order of the Cisteaux, and Pluscardie of the Cluniaks.

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