The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction

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The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction

The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and
Instruction, No. 333, by Various This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at
Title: The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction, No. 333 Vol. 12, Issue 333, September 27, 1828
Author: Various
Release Date: February 17, 2005 [EBook #15087]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

Produced by Jonathan Ingram, David Garcia and the PG Online Distributed Proofreading Team.

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VOL. XII, NO. 333.] SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 1828. [PRICE 2d.
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[Illustration: FIRE TOWER]
Throughout Scotland and Ireland there are scattered great numbers of _round towers_, which have puzzled all antiquarians. They have of late obtained the general name of _Fire Towers_, and our engraving represents the view of one of them, at Brechin, in Scotland. It consists of sixty regular courses of hewn stone, of a brighter colour than the adjoining church. It is 85 feet high to the cornice, whence rises a low, spiral-pointed roof of stone, with three or four windows, and on the top a vane, making 15 feet more, in all 100 feet from the ground, and measuring 48 feet in external circumference.
Many of these towers in Ireland vary from 35 to 100 feet. One at Ardmore has fasci? at the several stories, which all the rest both in Ireland and Scotland, seem to want, as well as stairs, having only abutments, whereon to rest timbers and ladders. Some have windows regularly disposed, others only at the top. Their situation with respect to the churches also varies. Some in Ireland stand 25 to 125 feet from the west end of the church. The tower at Brechin is included in the S.W. angle of the ancient cathedral, to which it communicates by a door.
There have been numerous discussions respecting the purposes for which these towers were built; they are generally adjoining to churches, whence they seem to be of a religious nature. Mr. Vallencey considers it as a settled point, that they were an appendage to the Druidical religion, and were, in fact, _towers for the preservation of the sacred fire[1] of the Druids or Magi_. To this Mr. Gough, in his description of Brechin Tower,[2] raises an insuperable objection. But they are certainly not belfries; and as no more probable conjecture has been made on their original purpose, they are still known as _Fire Towers._
For this curious relic we are indebted to Mr. Godfrey Higgins's erudite quarto, entitled "The Celtic Druids," already alluded to at page 121 of our present volume.
[1] Like the ancient Jews and Persians, the Druids had a sacred and inextinguishable fire, which was preserved with the greatest care. At Kildare it was guarded, from the most remote antiquity, by an order of Druidesses, who were succeeded in later times by an order of Christian Nuns. The fire was fed with peeled wood, and never blown with the mouth, that it might not be polluted.
[2] "On the west front of the tower are two arches, one within the other in relief. On the point of the outermost is a crucifix, and between both, towards the middle, are figures of the Virgin Mary and St. John, the latter holding a cup with a lamb. The outer arch is adorned with knobs, and within both is a small slit or loop. At the bottom of the outer arch are two beasts couchant. If one of them _by his proboscis was not evidently an elephant_, I should suppose them the supporters of the Scotch arms. Parallel with the Crucifix are two plain stones, which do not appear to have had anything upon them. Here is not the least trace of a door in these arches, nor anywhere else, except in the church."
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(_For the Mirror._)
(Stirbitch Fair, as our correspondent observes, was once the Leipsic or Frankfurt of England. He has appended to his "Account" a ground plan of the fair, which we regret we have not room to insert; the gaps or spaces in which, serve to show how much this commercial carnival (for such it might be termed) has deteriorated; for the remaining booths were built on the same site as during the former splendour of the fair. Our correspondent accounts for this "decay, by the facilities of roads and navigable canals for the conveyance of goods;" the shopkeepers, &c, "being able to get from London and the manufacturing districts, every article direct, at a small expense, the fair-keepers
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