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A Short History of Scotland by Andrew Lang
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A SHORT HISTORY OF SCOTLAND


CHAPTER I. SCOTLAND AND THE ROMANS.


If we could see in a magic mirror the country now called Scotland as it
was when the Romans under Agricola (81 A.D.) crossed the Border, we
should recognise little but the familiar hills and mountains. The
rivers, in the plains, overflowed their present banks; dense forests of
oak and pine, haunted by great red deer, elks, and boars, covered land
that has long been arable. There were lakes and lagoons where for
centuries there have been fields of corn. On the oldest sites of our
towns were groups of huts made of clay and wattle, and dominated,
perhaps, by the large stockaded house of the tribal prince. In the
lochs, natural islands, or artificial islets made of piles (crannogs),
afforded standing-ground and protection to villages, if indeed these lake-
dwellings are earlier in Scotland than the age of war that followed the
withdrawal of the Romans.

The natives were far beyond the savage stage of culture. They lived in
an age of iron tools and weapons and of wheeled vehicles; and were in
what is called the Late Celtic condition of art and culture, familiar to
us from beautiful objects in bronze work, more commonly found in Ireland
than in Scotland, and from the oldest Irish romances and poems.

In these "epics" the manners much resemble those described by Homer. Like
his heroes, the men in the Cuchullain sagas fight from light chariots,
drawn by two ponies, and we know that so fought the tribes in Scotland
encountered by Agricola the Roman General (81-85 A.D.) It is even said