The Orkney Finnmen Legends: From Early Modern Science to Modern Myth

How early modern science’s fascination with unfamiliar objects helped a new chapter of Scottish folklore. This article, The Orkney Finnmen Legends: From Early Modern Science to Modern Myth, was originally published in The Public Domain Review under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0. If you wish to reuse it please see: https://publicdomainreview.org/legal/ At the end of the 17th[…]

The Real Macbeth: Mad King or a Clever Eye to Solid Power?

Macbeth appears to have cleverly positioned Scotland between her more powerful neighbors yet he did not isolate Scotland either. Introduction Mac Bethad mac Findlaích, (died August 15, 1057), was King of Scots (also known as the King of Alba) from 1040 until his death. He is best known as the subject of William Shakespeare’s tragedy[…]

Monsters and Heroes of Medieval Scotland: Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness

The story of the Loch Ness Monster originates in the 7th-century CE work of a monk named Adomnan. Introduction The Scottish Highlands are among the most impressive landscapes in the world with some of the most famous sites – Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness, Culloden Battlefield, Clava Cairns – as well as looming mountains, deep glens, and winding rivers.[…]

Staging Kingship in Scotland and England, 1532-1560

In terms of its staging of sovereignty, passivity distinguished the Scottish king from the English tyrant. Introduction ‘Quhat is ane king?’ asks Divine Correctioun in David Lyndsay’s Ane Satyre of the Thrie Estaitis before supplying the answer ‘Nocht bot ane officiar’ (1613),[1] thereby articulating a commonplace of medieval Scottish literature on kingship that the monarch’s[…]

Fictional History, Patriotism, and the Fight for Scottish Independence

The contribution of popular but historically inaccurate films—and literature—to the evolution of a misguided patriotism that fails to take account of historical and political complexities seems obvious. Premiering at the 2019 Edinburgh International Film Festival in advance of its general release on June 28, 2019, Robert the Bruce, directed by Richard Gray, will “boost support for Scottish independence,” if actor[…]

Lincoln in Scotland: A Gift of the Gilded Age

This gift from America to Scotland can be understood as a symbol of Gilded Age transatlantic relations. Introduction On August 21, 1893, a bronze stature of Abraham Lincoln was erected in the heart of Edinburgh, Scotland. This article examines the story of this monument and the motivations of the men who erected it, as a[…]

The Reivers: Raids along the Medieval and Early Modern Anglo-Scottish Border

Their heyday was in the last hundred years of their existence, during the time of the Stuart Kings in Scotland and the Tudor dynasty in England. Introduction Border reivers were raiders along the Anglo-Scottish border from the late 13th century to the beginning of the 17th century. Their ranks consisted of both Scottish and English[…]

‘Dinnae Meddle!’: Scotland and the Historiography of Homosexual Law Reform

Scotland has its own independent legal system, education system and religious institutions, and gay men were criminalized there long after England ended their laws. A curious, or perhaps irksome, aspect of ‘British’ approaches to the history of sexuality is that they tend to neglect the variation of experience within the United Kingdom. I’ve lost count[…]

The Riot that Destroyed an Abbey’s Salmon Weir in Medieval Scotland

The sheriff of Stirling was ordered by the king to make the perpetrators reconstruct the abbey’s infrastructure within forty days and reimburse its losses. In summer 1365 armed inhabitants of the royal Scottish burgh of Stirling “violently and unjustly attacked and demolished the weirs and fisheries” belonging to Cambuskenneth, a convent of Augustinian canons located across[…]