Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Invention of Tradition; the Highland Tradition of Scotland - by Hugh Trevor Roper

Tartan Army.jpg

Scotland played Northern Ireland last night, and the match finished 0-0. Scotland fans are as usual clad in tartan, kilts, with bagpipes, ginger wigs and all the usual stuff that is accepted today as Scottish iconography. Some of my pipe band friends wear kilts every Saturday at their competitions. But where did it all come from in the first place? Is it all as ancient as some people claim? Maybe not:

"...The creation of an independent Highland tradition, and the imposition of that new tradition, with its outward badges, on the whole Scottish nation, was the work of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries..."

Here's a link to Hugh Trevor Roper's famous summary. Just 30 pages long, and a very worthwhile read.

Here's also a review of one of Roper's other writings: The Invention of Scotland.

(but maybe if I still had the lean muscley legs of my early 20s I'd be wearing a kilt too!)