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from both languages. Several Cumbrian hills received their names from the sacrifice of the Beltain, of which they were the sites. Of these the highest is Hill Bell, the hill of the baal, or Beltain, in Westmorland; Bell Hill, near Drigg in Cumberland, confirms this etymology of the name. Besides these we have Bells and Green Bells in Westmorland, and Cat Bells, Derwentwater. Yevering Bell, Northumberland (see page 59), and Baal Hills on the Yorkshire moors, are further corroborative of the origin of the name, and the precise nature of the worship there practised. The Manks Boaldyn—beyond a doubt Beltain—now considered a synonyme for May, illustrates the manner in which this name has been misunderstood. In the Manks language laa boaldyn signifies May-day, and hence etymologists have supposed its origin to be boal, a wall, Irish teine, fire, from the custom of carrying fire round the walls and fences on the eve of this day.
Fireworship, or a commemoration thereof, can be traced to a late period at the four great festivals of the seasons. On the establishment of Christianity in Ireland, the care of the sacred fire was entrusted to St. Bridget and her society of nuns, and the eve of the first of February still witnesses a rude custom in connexion therewith. Candlemas day doubtless originated as an adaptation
supposed Baal worship is unknown in Cornwall, and the Beltain is confined to districts known to have been partly colonised by Scandinavians. The word baal, erroneously supposed to mean the sun, is always to be interpreted dominus. Thus, the Egyptian Seb, one of the Twelve, was adopted by the Phænicians, and is called in Philo, Baal-Cheled, lord of time, the younger Kronos. In the passage, “We have forsaken our God, and also served Baalim” (Judges, 10 c.), the meaning is, We have joined in the worship of the native gods,—the Baalim being Baal-Berith, the god at the city of Berith, Baal-Peor, the god on the mountain of Peor, Baal-zebub, literally the god of flies, the symbol of destruction, etc.
The evidences of Baal worship in the British Isles are altogether imaginary, of which the famous Tory Hill monument (Ireland) is an instructive instance. The inscription thereon was read Beli Diuose, and considered a dedication to the god Baal or Dionusos. On this was raised the Phænician theories of Vallancey and Wood. At length, through local enquiries, the true state of the case came out, and by turning the stone upside down, the “ Pelasgian inscription" was found to be “ E. Conic, 1731," the name of the man who cut it for his amusement.See Trans. of the Kilkenny Archæ. Soc. 1851.
of the worship of this season; as did the Firebrand Sunday of Burgundy, and the more general observance of St. Blaze's day. The Beltain is generally understood to belong to the first of May, and in Scotland especially, where it was continued according to the old style. Lammas, or the first of August, has left fewer traces, but there is no doubt it was once celebrated with fireworship; whilst the observance of the first of November appears to have been more widely spread than any of the other seasons. The teine Tlachdgha, or fire of Tlachdgha, in Meath, was kindled on the latter day, when all other fires were extinguished, and a tax paid to the Druids for permission to rekindle them from the sacred fire.* The Hallowe'en Bleeze of Scotland was very generally observed, fires being made on all the rising grounds; the Autumnal fires of Wales were kindled on the same evening, and the Teanlay night of the Fylde of Lancashire is a part of the same observance.
The Midsummer rejoicings are most generally known nnder the name of bone-fires, being so called from the custom of burning bones on that night. These are the bane-fyers of Scotland, and in the Irish language they have a name of identical meaning. In all the country parts of England the Midsummer fires were continued to a late period, together with sports, which were kept up in some places till midnight, in others till cockcrow.f The old writer, Naogeorgus, 1570, tells us of bonefires in every town, of young men and maids dancing in every street. Stow speaks of several bone-fires in June and July, on the vigils of festivals, and of oil lamps being hung at the doors in London, on the eve of St. John. The famous Midsummer Watch of London was a part of these observances, and was continued both on the eve of St. Peter and of St. John to the reign of Edward the sixth. The same custom, we are informed, was observed in Nottingham, when “every inhabitant of any ability set forth a man.” This was clearly keeping the vigil by proxy, and had nothing to do with the peace of the town.
* O'Reilly's Irish Dictionary.
cording to the general opinion of the old writers, the bonewere intended to drive away dragons and evil spirits by their sive smell. Stow thinks that a great fire purges the “infecof the air;" but another author declares that “ dragons hate yng more than the stenche of brennynge bones.” At Burford xfordshire, it must be observed, a dragon was carried in ession on Midsummer-eve; but evidently the dragon superon is a late addition to the fireworship. On the contrary, in west of England the St. John's fire was called the Blessing . 'he bone-fires of Ireland, though they have declined much of
years, still form a general custom. They are lit on St. John's , new style, only, and are doubtless in connexion with the tice, when the sun is about to attain his greatest height in the vens. On the afternoon of that day, a deputation from the id who propose to officiate at the ceremony of the night, go ind the neighbourhood to collect donations for the purchase of gots, the ringleader, or Arch-druid, carrying in his hand the all of a horse or other animal as a symbol of his priestly actions. With the larger bone-fires considerable pains are ken, the bones being regularly laid in; and if possible a tree is ocured round which the faggots are placed. Leaping through e flame, with the face blackened, is now only regarded as a atter of amusement; and on retiring, each of the assembly is pposed to carry away a brand. We are informed by Pennant (Tour in Scotland) that "till of te years the superstition of the Beltain was kept up in these parts Cumberland), and in this rude sacrifice it was customary for the erformers to bring with them boughs of the mountain ash.” It eems probable that the February fires were likewise a custom of his district, for we have a Blaze Fell near Hesket, and another in Nestmorland, as if so called from the saint of that name.
The bservances properly belonging to St. Bridget's eve were transerred in some parts to that of St. Blaze. Village wakes, when oming on or near the day of the periodical celebration, frequently appropriated to themselves the customs of the seasons.
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told in Hutchinson (History of Cumberland), 1794, that the wake at Cumwhitton on the eve of St. John (Midsummer), was then kept with fires, dancing, etc. The writer calls it the “old Beltain," but this must be a mistake, as that name was restricted to the first of May.
The old Midsummer custom of the bone-fire is still observed at Melmerby, perhaps the only place in these counties at which this remnant of fireworship now lingers. At the alteration of the calendar in this country, Midsummer eve, old style, fell on the fourth of July, and this is still the time of observance at Melmerby. There is thus a singular retrogression of a day, but the cause of the change does not appear. The following day, until within two or three years since, was kept as the annual village festival. It was a holiday for a considerable extent of the fell-sides, and used to be attended by a great concourse of people. Preparations on a most extensive scale were made, partly for the accommodation of the general public, but still more for the private entertainment of friends. For several days previous to the feast, the village ovens were in continual daily and nightly requisition. Sports were held out of doors, and in every house there was merry-making, which never ended with the first day. To such a ruinous extent was the hospitality of the season carried, that many persons, it is said, felt its effects for the ensuing twelve months. But this re-union of friends, which was, however, already declining, has been quite discontinued since the establishment of certain cattle fairs in the Spring and Autumn, and for these times the annual visits are now reserved.
The superstition of the Need-fire is the only other remains of fireworship in these counties. It was once an annual observance, and is still occasionally employed in the dales and some other localities (according to the import of the name, cattle-fire) as a charm for various diseases to which cattle are liable. All the fires in the village are first carefully put out, a deputation going round to each house to see that not a spark remains. Two pieces of wood are then ignited by friction, and within the influence of the fire thus kindled the cattle are brought. The scene is one of dire bellowing
tha the eit
REMAINS OF THE FIREWORSHIP.
confusion, but the owner is especially anxious that his animals ald get “plenty of the reek.” The charm being ended in one ge, the fire may be transferred to the next, and thus propagated ar as it is required. Miss Martineau (Lake Guide) remarks the inuance of this custom, and relates a story of a certain farmer,
when all his cattle had been passed through the fire, subjected liling wife to the influence of the same potent charm. At various times attempts were made to suppress those remains fireworship. The sixth council of Constantinople, 680, interted “bone-fires;" the Synodus Francica, 742, inhibited Nedfri ed-fires),-with what success we have seen. These customs, ich, by the change of religion alone, were rendered harmless, atinued until their latest names lost all special significance. le-fire became the general term for a signal-fire, and bone-fire is w the name of any fire made at a public rejoicing. Scott (Lay the Last Minstrel) has even mistaken the need-fire (D. nöd, ttle), and used the name for beacon-fire. And there is no doubt at for many centuries, those who were prepared to do battle for eir Beltain or their bone-fire, could no otherwise account for ther, than as an inherited custom. Those professors of Christinity who transferred the various pagan observances to the saints, ecording to the coincidences of days and seasons, were wiser than puncils or synods; for being most in contact with the ancient tes, they best saw the necessity of tolerating what they were owerless to combat.