Mineral Notices And Observations Beregonium

Mineral Notices and Observations (original)
page 112 and 113
By the Rev Thomas Macknight DDFRSE Read 4th Jan 1817


Beregonium : the reputed ancient capital of Scotland if we may judge from any remains that are now to be traced seems to have been nothing else than one of those vitrified forts which arc observed in different parts of the Highlands.
This is indicated by the nature of the ground on which it stands and of certain substances taken out of the soil, in the line of what appear to have been the walls.
These substances, it is more than probable, are pieces of the neighbouring amygdaloid, both massive and slaty ; which have been altered by fire though not partially vitrified like the other substances, along with which they had been piled up for that purpose, and which submit more easily to an imperfect vitrification, such as the different kinds of greenstone
Or, perhaps, they may have been a species of clay slate, containing a great proportion of lime, similar to that, of which, as we shall presently see, the island of Lismore is composed
The materials filling the vesicular cavities, being more fusible or easily driven off, than the rest of the mass, seems to have yielded to the heat, leaving the substance now observed.
In some fragments, the stratified structure may still be discerned; but the specimens are porous, resembling pumice stone; and so light, that some of them are found to swim in water.
That they have undergone the action of fire, can hardly be doubted, when it is known that no such mineral is found in Scotland except on the site of Beregonium, which has many appearances of having been a vitrified fort.
And to this may be ascribed the tradition respecting its destruction by fire; not to any volcanic appearance that can be observed on the neighbouring hill.
The mistake on this subject, seems to have been occasioned by the wild and rugged aspect of the conglomerate rock, decomposing and tumbling down in huge fragments.
It is said, that the remains of wooden pipes have been discovered under ground, which had conveyed water to the fort from the hill now mentioned.
If this be fact, we may date the existence of Beregonium as long subsequent to the Roman period of our history.
It had, probably, been distinguished as a residence or stronghold of some of our kings, while hostilities subsisted between Ireland and Scotland, or at the commencement of the Norwegian and Danish invasions of the western isles ;and hence, the origin of the traditionary title it has so long enjoyed. Beneath the clay slate of Beregonium, a species of extremely compact mica slate is discoverable, containing hornblende intimately mixed.
I found here a fragment of syenite, with large and beautiful crystals of hornblende, and also very distinct ones of sphene.
Near Lochnell, there is a rock of granular quartz with a slaty structure resembling a fine grained sandstone.
A similar rock occurs at Airds and Portnacroich, where it is frequently quarried for building Lismore.

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