Page:Transactions of the Geological Society, 1st series, vol. 2.djvu/284

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Dr. Mac Culloch on the Vitrified Forts of Scotland.

not perfectly correct account is given by Owen Salisbury Brereton Esq. in the third volume of the Archæologia. On applying to the present most respectable octogenarian proprietor, (descendant of this ancient family,) to whose regard for the superior comforts of a modern house we are indebted for the destruction of this singular and venerable remain, I was informed that the west end alone had been vitrified. The vitrification was so entire and continuous, as to form one uniform glassy surface over the whole of the wall, and thus to conceal even the joints of the masonry. The wall itself was of grey mottled sandstone, about 18 inches thick. I have examined the vitrified crust in a specimen transmitted to me. It is scarcely the twentieth part of an inch in thickness, and consists of a green transparent glass, perfectly superficial. its appearance would lead me to conclude that it had been produced by the application of alkali or salt to the surface of the wall, previously to the process of firing by which the vitrification was effected. The proprietor is inclined to think that the vitrified wall was of greater antiquity than the rest of the building, but offers no conjecture relative to the time of its erection. It is only known that the family can be traced on the same spot to a period as far back as that of Edward the Confessor.

We have here then additional accessory evidence to prove that the art of vitrifying buildings after their erection, was an art practised in Britain. In this case it was evidently intended for the purpose of excluding the weather, and certainly a more effectual expedient could not have been devised. The vitrified forts of Scotland, more solid and less exposed to the ravages of art, have but partially yielded to the universal enemy, time. The more slender structures intended for habitation, have disappeared in the lapse of years, or have suffered from the taste of other improvers.