A History of Scotland

A History of Scotland

A History of Scotland

A History of Scotland

Synopsis

From the Pictish peoples and their symbol stones to modern devolution, this narrative remains a comprehensive introduction to Scottish history. The text covers key social and political aspects.

Excerpt

This book was written in the 1960s, an exciting time for the study of history, particularly the long neglected area of Scottish history. Inevitably it bears the stamp of the period. It was a decade of rapid academic expansion, both in students and specialisms. in England the prospect of higher education was extended into new sections of society, and in Scotland where the universities were already used by working class students, a broader range of studies became available. There were new courses, and new subjects to be studied. a wider spread of topics was undertaken by research workers. the creation of a new political structure for part of Europe led to emphasis on the experience of the smaller countries and encouraged expression of national identity. in particular there was a sense of opportunity for a country which for over a century and a half had done its best to suppress serious study of its own past. the Scottish universities had seen the courses they offered as routes to profitable jobs in government service or in the church. a history degree was the way in to the civil service, and the history involved was English history with an occasional glance at what had happened in Scotland: this mixture might or might not call itself British history.

For the history of Scotland the prejudices and assumptions of the nineteenth century had dominated the scene. the picture of the seventeenth century as seen in Sir Walter Scott’s Tales of a Grandfather still had a baleful influence, and the presbyterian churches had accepted and imposed an interpretation of the earlier period which justified their dominance in the nineteenth century. God could be seen as having favoured a particular outcome so there was no need for research on the way he had pulled it off. Education was seen as opening the door to particular careers in law, teaching and medicine, not on the whole, as a basis for enquiry.

The change in academic manpower made for a new career structure: scholars could devote time and effort to research. Their predecessors in the nineteenth century had not written many books but they had done a great deal of careful work in making primary sources available in print.

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