Page:Transactions of the Geological Society, 1st series, vol. 2.djvu/269

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Dr. Mac Culloch on the Vitrified Forts of Scotland.

work, to show that these forts very probably belong to an age of some talent and improvement, a notion adverse to the suppositions of those who have conceived them to be the efforts of the rudest barbarians. But the ignorance and rudeness attributed to nations of mere warriors and hunters is falsely assigned.

The history of infant society shows on the contrary instances of acute reasoning, of ready invention, of perseverance and prowess, which would be in vain sought among the enlightened populace of modern times, nay even among those who are far removed above that rank. But this ability and vigour of mind have been necessarily directed to those objects only, which were useful or honourable; or were then in fashion. The abilities of infant nations require to be compared with their necessities, and to be measured by their best works, not by their worst.

The whole length of ground enclosed beyond the cross wall is about 200 yards, and its breadth is about 60. Within this space are two works, the one containing a perimeter of 153 yards, and the other one of 110. These, according to the modern military computation for the defence of a redoubt, are capable of holding more than 500 men. The perimeter of the external work is 96 yards, a space nearly capable of disposing of a hundred more. We are unable, from ignorance of their weapons and modes of warfare, to determine in what way these works were occupied or defended, but on any supposition it appears that this must have been a military fort of some magnitude and consequence.

I have entered into the details of the magnitude, and figure, and military importance of this work, for the purpose of setting aside another hypothesis with regard to the vitrified forts. They have been supposed by some to be merely beacons, and that the vitrification has been the result of the combustion of those heaps of wood

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