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Eminent Historian Debunks Scottish History As Largely Fabrication
The Times Online ^ | 5-18-2008 | Stuart MacDonald

Posted on 05/19/2008 4:05:09 PM PDT by blam

Eminent historian debunks Scottish history as largely fabrication

A book by the late Hugh Trevor-Roperand due to be published five years after his death argues that Scottish history is based on myths and falsehoods

Stuart MacDonald

SCOTLAND’S history is weaved from a “fraudulent” fabric of “myths and falsehoods”, according to an explosive new study by one of the world’s most eminent historians.

The Invention of Scotland: Myth and History, is the last book, and one of the most controversial, written by the late Hugh Trevor-Roper.

Now, five years after his death, the book is to be published at one of the most pivotal periods in Scottish political history.

It will provide an inflammatory contribution to the constitutional debate as it debunks many claims upon which the argument for independence is founded.

In the book, Trevor-Roper claims that Scotland’s literary and political traditions, which claim to date back to the Roman invasion of Scotland in the first century AD, are in fact based on myth and were largely invented in the 18th century.

Even the kilt, the ultimate sartorial symbol of Scottishness, was invented by an Englishman in the 1700s. The Declaration of Arbroath, presented to the then Pope in 1320 to confirm Scotland’s status as an independent state with an ancient constitution, is dismissed as being loaded with inaccuracies. It contains information on “imaginary” kings of ancient Scotland, created by historians, to provide false evidence that the Scots arrived north of the border from Ireland in the third century AD, before the Picts.

Scots are also accused of fabricating their own literary tradition, culminating in the publication of The Works of Ossian. These were claimed to have been translated from ancient sources in Gaelic about the lives of Celtic heroes, but have long been suspected of being a figment of the imagination of James Macpherson, the 18th-century Scottish poet who claimed to have translated them.

Trevor-Roper also declares that when the Scots were looking for a writer and poet to rival Shakespeare, following the Act of Union in 1707, they found nothing, leading to ancient writings being forged and passed off as Scottish literature.

“It was natural that Scots, seeking compensation for the end of their independent history and politics, should turn to discover and appreciate their native literature. Unfortunately when they looked for it, they could not find it. There was none.

“In Scotland, it seems to me, myth has played a far more important part in history than it has in England.

“Indeed, I believe the whole history of Scotland has been coloured by myth; and that myth, in Scotland, is never driven out by reality, or by reason, but lingers on until another myth has been discovered to replace it.”

The myth of the Highland dress was perpetuated by historians to provide a symbol by which Scots could be universally identified, as well as to support the country’s textile industry.

Trevor-Roper says the traditional dress of the Highlanders was a long Irish shirt and a cloak or plaid, which only the higher classes had woven in stripes and colours creating tartan.

The kilt did not, Trevor-Roper claims, come into being until the mid-18th century, when it was created by Thomas Rawlinson, who was an English quaker from Lancashire.

Rawlinson decided to shorten belted plaids after workmen in the Highlands, where he was staying, said they were uncomfortable.

But Michael Fry, the Scottish historian, said: “I don’t think Trevor-Roper is a very reliable guide to Scottish history. Lots of things emerge in history and just because we can’t pin down their origins it doesn’t follow from that \ everything about it is phoney. There is a distinguished school of medieval Scottish literature, and poetry in something that is recognisably Scots was being written in the 14th century.

“Tartan was worn in Scotland in the Middle Ages . . . and it just so happened that there was an evolution where this pattern, which was common in many parts of Europe, became distinctive in Scotland. His claims about the kilt prove absolutely nothing at all about the history of the dress.”


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: bookreview; fabrication; godsgravesglyphs; historian; history; scotland; scotlandyet; worldhistory

1 posted on 05/19/2008 4:05:10 PM PDT by blam
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To: SunkenCiv

GGG Ping.


2 posted on 05/19/2008 4:05:33 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam

Just another one of those cannibal kings from the fenns on the Continent out to steal a real history from a real people.


3 posted on 05/19/2008 4:09:34 PM PDT by muawiyah
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To: blam

Come on, mon, what did he say about haggis?


4 posted on 05/19/2008 4:12:08 PM PDT by SES1066 (Cycling to conserve, Conservative to save, Saving to Retire, will Retire to Cycle.)
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To: blam

Interesting article, but none of this is news. There’ve been a slew of books and articles in the last five years or so critical of accepted ideas about the Celts—including by Steven Oppenheimer, John Collis, and Simon James. Too bad TR didn’t publish the book while he was alive. They never explained the delay.

Like all debunking, it’s probably gone too far. There were plaids in Britain in the first century AD, tho’ I think he’s right about no kilts til the 18th c.


5 posted on 05/19/2008 4:17:37 PM PDT by varialectio
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To: SES1066

He said he couldn’t stomach it.


6 posted on 05/19/2008 4:18:44 PM PDT by tet68 ( " We would not die in that man's company, that fears his fellowship to die with us...." Henry V.)
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To: blam

Dammit. Now this after checking the family history at the website of the Old Bailey proceedings and finding out what a bunch of crooks my ancestors were!


7 posted on 05/19/2008 4:19:10 PM PDT by dynachrome ("Socialism is the feudalism of the future.")
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To: blam
maybe their governmental cowardness today is a matter of reverting back to the ancient days.
8 posted on 05/19/2008 4:23:21 PM PDT by elpadre
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To: SES1066
Come on, mon, what did he say about haggis?

Advocated a limited hunting season and a bag limit of five per person per season.

9 posted on 05/19/2008 4:25:06 PM PDT by Timocrat (I Emanate on your Auras and Penumbras Mr Blackmun)
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To: varialectio; Cacique

I read this more than a decade ago in Eric Hobsbawm’s “The Invention of Tradition.”


10 posted on 05/19/2008 4:29:17 PM PDT by Clemenza (I Live in New Jersey for the Same Reason People Slow Down to Look at Car Crashes)
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To: blam

“When the legend becomes fact,print the legend.”

From “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence”.


11 posted on 05/19/2008 4:34:35 PM PDT by DManA
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To: blam

Best not go after William Wallace


12 posted on 05/19/2008 4:38:02 PM PDT by edcoil
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To: blam
Watch it! The position of the Celts in the UK basically the same as that of Blacks in the US!

Whether or not Scottish history is mythical, I still think England still deserves to be independent from them!

PS: No way did the Scots antedate the Picts! In fact, there were Angles in what is now Scotland before the Scots arrived!

13 posted on 05/19/2008 4:39:25 PM PDT by Zionist Conspirator (Im-bechuqqotay telekhu; ve'et-mitzvotay tishmeru, va`asiytem 'otam.)
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To: varialectio; blam
What he's done is strung together some half-truths and made some huge leaps. He's also deliberately concealing some well known information.

The story's been around for years that the "little plaid" or kilt per se -- the garment with permanently sewn-down pleats and a waistband -- was invented by a tailor in Lochaber some time in the 18th century. This website begs to differ, pointing out depictions of the small kilt occurred in the 17th century.

The "great plaid" or actually just the "plaid" however dates back as far as recorded history goes. It was a sort of do-it-yourself kilt - you laid the HUGE rectangle of cloth down on the ground, pleated it side to side, then slid your belt under at waist height, lay down, flipped the end panels over the front, buckled the belt, and stood up. (Is that perfectly clear? There are guys at the Highland Games who demonstrate this!) The left over top piece could be flung over your shoulder, used as a rain coat, or just hang behind like a tail.

The "little kilt" is just the belted plaid with the top cut off and the pleats sewn down.

And "Ossian" was exposed as a fraud in the 18th century by none other than that good old literary combatant, Dr. Johnson. This is NOT news. The fact that James McPherson decided to pass off some of his own poetry as translated from an 'ancient manuscript' does not in any way invalidate other authentic (if incomplete) sources.

So Trevor-Roper is being more than a little disingenuous here.

(Isn't this the guy that declared that the fake "Hitler diaries" were "authentic"? Some 'eminent historian', that.)

14 posted on 05/19/2008 4:42:57 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of Ye Chase, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: Timocrat; SES1066

“Och, sir, ‘tis a rare visitor that sees the Wild Haggis Romp!”


15 posted on 05/19/2008 4:43:57 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of Ye Chase, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: blam

I see “revisionist” history isn’t just an American problem.


16 posted on 05/19/2008 4:52:40 PM PDT by swmobuffalo ("We didn't seek the approval of Code Pink and MoveOn.org before deciding what to do")
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To: blam


Alba go Bragh!

17 posted on 05/19/2008 4:56:49 PM PDT by ConorMacNessa (HM/2 USN, 3/5 Marines, RVN 1969. St. Peregrine, patron saint of cancer patients, pray for us.)
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To: AnAmericanMother
So if it is Scottish its crap? So I Married An Axe Murderer
18 posted on 05/19/2008 5:00:24 PM PDT by redstateconfidential (If you are the smartest person in the room,you are hanging out with the wrong people.)
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To: blam

This can’t be true. We all know that oral tradition is the only pure form of history and it cannot be refuted by silly historical evidence.

Our own Native Americans clearly demonstrate that whatever those who claim to be Native American may claim that their ancestors knew, felt, or believed is absolute fact and is incapable of nullification by racist critics.

As a descendant of Scots, I hereby declare that all of these myths are true, have always been true, and will forever be true, until we decide that they are inconvenient, in which case they will no longer be true. Moreover, we Scots are individually and collectively entitled to reparations, with interest, for everything that has been visited upon us or might have been visted upon us had we been paying attention.


19 posted on 05/19/2008 5:04:34 PM PDT by centurion316 (Democrats - Supporting Al Qaida Worldwide)
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To: AnAmericanMother

Thanks for the interesting link.

Another Trevor-Roper whiff: “declining gentry” were behind the English Revolution in the 17th c. But he deserves to be remembered fondly for his scathing attack on A. J. P. Taylor’s defense of Hitler in the ‘80s.


20 posted on 05/19/2008 5:05:31 PM PDT by varialectio
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To: varialectio
... no kilts til the 18th c. Well, I think it's for sure there were no kilts in the second half of the 18th century. They were banned after Culloden, or so I hear.
21 posted on 05/19/2008 5:08:51 PM PDT by ArmyTeach (Live pure, speak true, right wrong and follow The King. (Tennyson))
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To: varialectio
... no kilts til the 18th c. Well, I think it's for sure there were no kilts in the second half of the 18th century. They were banned after Culloden, or so I hear.
22 posted on 05/19/2008 5:11:00 PM PDT by ArmyTeach (Live pure, speak true, right wrong and follow The King. (Tennyson))
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To: ArmyTeach

duplication :-(


23 posted on 05/19/2008 5:11:50 PM PDT by ArmyTeach (Live pure, speak true, right wrong and follow The King. (Tennyson))
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To: AnAmericanMother

Sorry,, Taylor’s book came out in 1961. Time flies when you’re having fun.


24 posted on 05/19/2008 5:31:36 PM PDT by varialectio
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To: dynachrome
"checking the family history at the website of the Old Bailey proceedings"....

Tried - any tips?

25 posted on 05/19/2008 5:52:14 PM PDT by norton
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To: norton

Just punched in my last name in the search box and cme up with a lot of hits. Helps to have a very common name.


26 posted on 05/19/2008 5:57:30 PM PDT by dynachrome ("Socialism is the feudalism of the future.")
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To: norton

Sorry. You meant the website!

http://www.oldbaileyonline.org/index.jsp


27 posted on 05/19/2008 6:00:10 PM PDT by dynachrome ("Socialism is the feudalism of the future.")
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To: ArmyTeach
The kilts continued as part of the uniform of the Black Watch and a couple of other regiments or militia organizations (including the Duke of Atholl's private army).

About the only way you could continue to wear tartan or play the pipes was to join the army . . . .

The whole "clan tartan" thing didn't really take hold until Victorian times, and the assignment of particular patterns or "setts" to a particular clan is purely a Victorian fantasy. There were some pre-1745 tartans associated with districts, probably mostly because the local weavers had favorite patterns and tended to weave a lot of them. But there was no organized "system" such as they have now.

That historical excuse gives me free rein to avoid tartans that I hate and wear the ones that I like. My dad's family's "official" tartan is dull and boring, so I wear one of my mom's many patterns. She's a MacDonald of Glencoe, but I like the MacDonald of the Isles better, so I wear that. My husband's Marr tartan is hideous and enough of it to cover 6'6" of quarter-Scot, quarter-Irish, and half Heinz 57 would be a public eyesore, so he wears Gordon, with which he has sort of a vague family connection through his dad.

Somebody once asked a Lowland Scot if his family had a tartan, and he replied, "No. Thank God my family could always afford to wear pants."

28 posted on 05/19/2008 6:54:53 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of Ye Chase, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: varialectio
How it does.

I have that same picture demonstrating the use of a belted plaid in an old book on tartans from the late 50s or early 60s.

In 1967 I was a competitive Highland Dancer. Girls still wore kilts in those days, the "Flora MacDonald" outfit didn't come in until later, unless you were dancing the Lilt.

29 posted on 05/19/2008 6:57:12 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of Ye Chase, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: dynachrome
My London relations appear to have successfully stayed out of trouble before they immigrated to Newark NJ (which was actually a nice place in the 1790s!)

Neat website.

30 posted on 05/19/2008 7:00:50 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of Ye Chase, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: ConorMacNessa
IF William Wallace spoke Gaelic (which I profoundly doubt - he was from Ayrshire or somewhere thereabouts and they thought the Highlanders were barbarous savages from the north and west), he would have spoken Scots Gaelic, not Irish.

It's "Alba gu braith!"

31 posted on 05/19/2008 7:06:38 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of Ye Chase, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: blam; StayAt HomeMother; Ernest_at_the_Beach; 1ofmanyfree; 21twelve; 24Karet; 3AngelaD; 49th; ...

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Thanks Blam.
In the book, Trevor-Roper claims that Scotland’s literary and political traditions, which claim to date back to the Roman invasion of Scotland in the first century AD, are in fact based on myth and were largely invented in the 18th century... Scots are also accused of fabricating their own literary tradition, culminating in the publication of The Works of Ossian. These were claimed to have been translated from ancient sources in Gaelic about the lives of Celtic heroes, but have long been suspected of being a figment of the imagination of James Macpherson, the 18th-century Scottish poet who claimed to have translated them.
I don't think there are many who regard Ossian as anything but a recent invention; I don't doubt that this isn't a unique approach, though. :')

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.
GGG managers are Blam, StayAt HomeMother, and Ernest_at_the_Beach
 

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32 posted on 05/19/2008 9:36:28 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/_______________________Profile updated Monday, April 28, 2008)
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To: dynachrome

Ouch, me ancestors were a randy lot I’ve got to say. Me pur people had a need fer pickin pockets and the like also. No, not nice fellows at all.


33 posted on 05/19/2008 9:43:50 PM PDT by DariusBane (Ronaldus Magnus: The Great Communicator, Philosopher of Conser, Bane of Moscow, Defender of Grenada)
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To: AnAmericanMother
Right. Anyone who's even heard of Ossian knows that literary critics have been taking for granted that the poetry was a fake, since forever and a day.

Likewise, the modern kilt is ... modern. However, plaid stuff that shows off a guy's hairy knees has been around forever and a day, also.
What are we going to get next? Eminent historian declares that it is unlikely that George Washington actually chopped down a cherry tree with his little hatchet.
34 posted on 05/19/2008 9:49:14 PM PDT by Mariebl
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To: SES1066; blam; SunkenCiv

Hoot mon, only we wild and barbarian scots could invent haggis and deem it fit food for humans.

Ye canna take that distinction awa from us.


35 posted on 05/20/2008 6:00:08 AM PDT by wildbill
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To: Mariebl
Grant Wood beat the 'eminent historians' to it 70 years ago . . .


36 posted on 05/20/2008 6:36:45 AM PDT by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of Ye Chase, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: blam
Sounds like total BS.

Never trust anyone who writes a book that is not to be published until five years after his death.

37 posted on 05/20/2008 7:11:19 AM PDT by Dustbunny (Freedom prospers when religion is vibrant and the rule of law under God is acknowledged. The Gipper)
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To: edcoil

Wasn’t he Welsh?


38 posted on 05/20/2008 3:09:12 PM PDT by stop_fascism
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To: blam

Don’t know who invented pants put they are a very bad idea. Kilts are so sensible given the First Law of Human Male Thermo-Dynamics. That being give your b**ls some air.


39 posted on 05/20/2008 3:25:55 PM PDT by gost2
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To: TheMom; humblegunner

Ping!


40 posted on 05/20/2008 3:26:57 PM PDT by Eaker (Be polite. Be professional. But, have a plan to have TheMom kill everyone you meet.)
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To: gost2
"Don’t know who invented pants put they are a very bad idea. Kilts are so sensible given the First Law of Human Male Thermo-Dynamics. That being give your b**ls some air."

These (The Curse Of The Red-Headed Mummy) are the people who invented pants...they did so after they domesticated the horse and discovered that the inside of your legs (when straddling a horse) needed protection too.

41 posted on 05/20/2008 3:45:27 PM PDT by blam
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To: Eaker
Historians be damned.

Raiding cattle is a legitimate sport.

42 posted on 05/20/2008 4:39:55 PM PDT by humblegunner (Che is Gay)
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To: wildbill
:')
Google

43 posted on 05/20/2008 9:54:24 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/_______________________Profile updated Monday, April 28, 2008)
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To: sionnsar

Great Scot!


44 posted on 05/20/2008 9:56:40 PM PDT by rottndog (Globull Warming "Science" = garbage in, gospel out.)
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