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Chapter 6: Of Boene. Anze, Buchquhane, Mar, Mernis, Fiffe, And Angus, With The Lakes, Flouds, Abbies, Townes, And Other Notable Things Conteined In The Same.

NEXT vnto the Murrey lieth Boene, and Anze, two fertill and plentifull regions, which extend their bounds euen vnto the seas. They are both verie notablie indowed with batable pastures, and by reason thereof are verie full of cattell, they yeeld moreouer excellent corne, and by meanes of their large woods and forrests not without great store of wild beasts of sundrie kinds and natures. Neere also vnto the Douere water, which is a riuer maruellouslie stored with fish, standeth a towne named Bamfe, and vnder these two regions aforesaid lieth Buchquhane, a verie batable soile for all kinds of cattell, but especiallie of shéepe, whose wooll excéedeth that of the like beast of all other countries thereabouts for whitenesse and finenesse. The riuers that are in this countrie doo in like maner abound with samons, so that there is no one of them void of this commoditie, except the Rattra onelie, wherein it is not heard that anie hath béene séene: herein also standeth the castell of Slanis, in which the high constable of Scotland dwelleth, and néere vnto the same is a maruellous caue: for the water that droppeth into the same, in a short processe of time becommeth an hard white stone, and except they had béene oft remooued heretofore, the caue it selfe had béene filled vp with the same manie yeeres agone.

This region is void of rats, and such is the nature thereof, that if anie be brought thither from other places, they are found to die immediatlie: finallie it is most maruellous of all; that as otes doo grow there in manie places of themselues without culture and tillage; so if a man come thither of set purpose to mow downe the same, he shall find nothing els but emptie huls and straw: but if he chance vpon the sudden and without premeditation of the thing to cut downe anie (a matter impossible in my mind) he shall find them so good and full as anie are elsewhere, to be gathered and led home. Certes it appeareth hereby, that this is nothing else but an illusion, wherewith the wicked féends doo captiuate and blind the senses of the superstitious sort; for that it should be so by nature, it is a thing altogither impossible. Next vnto this lieth the great region of Mar, which is verie plentifull of cattell, and extendeth 60 miles in length, from the Almaine seas to Badzenoch. In this is the citie of Aberden, wherin is a bishops sée, and noble vniuersitie, sometime founded by William Elphinston bishop there. This citie lieth betwixt two rich riuers, the Done and the Dée, wherein, is the greatest store of samons that is to be found againe within the compasse of Albion, and likewise the greatest and longest if you respect their quantitie.

Next vnto-Mar, we haue Mernis toward the sea, a verie fat soile, full of pasture, and abundantlie replenished with euerie sort of cattell. In this portion standeth Dunnother the marshall of Scotlands house, and likewise the towne of Fordon, in which the bones of Palladius doo rest, who is taken generallie for the apostle of our nation. The water of Eske is bound vnto this region, which is otherwise called Northeske, a verie dangerous chanell, and wherein manie haue perished for default of a bridge, as they haue attempted to passe and repasse ouer the same. Angus bordereth vpon the Mernis, it was sometime part of Horrestia, and now watered with three notable riuers, as the Northeske alreadie mentioned, and maru Ilouslie replenished with samons, likewise the Southeske; and finallie the Taie, the noblest water in all Scotland, and remembred by the Romane writers vnder the name of Tau.

In Angus also is an high mounteine or promontorie, called the Red braes, which lieth out far off into the Almaine seas. The Taie also riseth farre beyond the mounteins of Granzben out of loch Taie, which is a poole of 24 miles of length, and 10 of breadth, wherein are not onelie diuers Ilands, with castels in them, but the water of the lake it selfe (being most fine and subtile) is notablie replenished with great store of fish, and therefore verie commodious for such as dwell about it. It falleth into the Almaine sea beside Dundée, a towne called in old time Alectum, wherein I was borne, and in which the people trauell verie painfullie about weauing and making of cloth. There are in Angus also manie other cities and rich abbeies, as Mountros, Brechin, and Forfaire, beside so manie castels as lieth not in me to number. This likewise is not to be passed ouer with silence, that whereas Forfaire was in times past a notable citie, strengthened with two roiall castels, as the ruines doo yet declare, now it is brought vnto little more than a countrie village, replenished with simple cotages. Manie lakes & pooles are also in Angus, and those well fraught with fish. There is also in this countrie one place called the vale of Eske, whose shéepe haue such white, fine, and excellent wooll, as the like vnto it is hardlie to be found againe within the whole Iland.

After we be ouer the Taie, we come vnto Fife, sometime a part of Ottoline. In this region groweth all maner of graine so plentifullie as elsewhere in anie part of Albion; and where no corne is, there is no lesse foison of cattell. There are blacke stones also digged out of the ground, which are verie good for firing, and such is their intollerable heat, when they are kindled, that they resolue and melt iron, and therefore are verie profitable for smiths, and such artificers as deale with other mettals; neither are they found anie where else (that I doo know of) but betwéene the Taie and the Tine within the whole Iland, Salt is likewise made within this region in great quantitie of sea water, which they boile according to their maner. There are furthermore sundrie cities in the same, of which S. Andrewes is the chiefe, wherein is both the sée of an archbishop and a famous vniuersitie, There are moreouer sundrie lakes, as loch Torre and loch Leuin, and in this later are diuerse lies, and in one of them also the church of S. Phillane, a Scotish saint, of no small name and reputation.

Fife is diuided of Lowthian by the riuer of Forth that runneth a large & broad chanell into the ocean seas. Certes it is a water verie plentifullie indued with cockles, oisters, muskels, seales, pellocks, mereswine, whales, and great foison of white fish: and among manie other Iles that are to be found in this Forth, that of Maie is of greatest fame, because Adrian and his fellows were killed in the same. In the middest of this lie springeth vp a founteine of fresh and cleare water, from an high rocke, which is not a little to be maruelled at, considering the quantitie and situation of the Ile. Beside this also is a woonderfull crag, rising within the sea, wherevnto is so strict and narrow a passage, that a man shall hardlie come vnto it by a fisher bote, and thereto but at one place. This rocke (called the Basse-castell) is inuicible, and therein are manie caues verie profitable for defense, made heretofore by great labor and industrie of men.

Certes, there is nothing in this rocke that is not full of admiration and woonder; therein also is great store of soland géese (not vnlike to those which Plinie calleth water eagles, or (as we saie) sea herons) and no where else but in Ailsaie and this rocke. At their first comming, which is in the spring of the yeare, they gather such great plentie of sticks and boughs togither for the building of their nests, that the same doo satisfie the kéeper of the castell, for the yéerelie maintenance of his fewell, without anie other prouision. These foules doo féed their yoong with the most delicat fish that they can come by. For though they haue alreadie preied vpon anie one, and haue it fast in their beake or talons, yet if they happen as they flie toward the land to espie a better, they let the first fall againe into the sea, and pursue the later with great and eager swiftnesse, vntill they take hold thereof.

Sometimes their preie is taken from them by the kéepers of the castell, as also their sticks from time to time for the aforesaid vse; but they making small or rather no resistance, doo turne againe forthwith, for more wood or fish (as their losse requireth) not ceasing till they haue builded their nests with the one, and nourished vp their yoong with the other, so that what by the timber of their nests, the beguiling them of their preie, and stealing awaie of their yoong, they bring yéerelie no small commoditie vnto the owner of the castell. Within the bowels of these géese there is a kind of grease to be had of singular force in medcine, and fleaing likewise the skin from their bodies with the fat, they make an oile verie profitable for the gout and manie other diseases in the hanches and groines of mankind. In this crag more, there groweth an hearbe verie pleasant and delicious for salads, but if it be taken vp and planted elsewhere, it either groweth not at all, or vtterlie giueth ouer the vertues wherewith it was earst indued.

There was sometime a stone found here in this rocke much like to a water sponge or pumice, hollow on the one side, and of such a nature, that if anie salt water had béene powred thereinto, and suffered to run through, it would forthwith lose the naturall saltnesse, and become fresh and verie pleasant vnto the mouth and tast. We heare in these daies that this stone is to be séene in Fast castell, whither it was brought after it had passed manie hands for the triall of this matter. In this firth also is the Ile Aimon, wherein is an abbeie. There are likewise diuers other Ilands, and those are verie full of conies; and in the said firth are sundrie fishes oftentimes seene of monstrous shape, with cowles hanging ouer their heads like vnto moonks, and in the rest resembling the bodie of man. They shew themselues likewise aboue the water to the nauill, howbeit they neuer appeare but against some great pestilence of men, or murren of cattell; wherefore their onelie sight dooth bréed great terror vnto the Scotish nation, who are verie great obseruers of uncouth signes & tokens.

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