Scottish Independence and the Idea of Britain: From the Picts to Alexander III

By Dauvit Broun | Go to book overview

9

The Scots as Ancient and Free:
‘Proto-Fordun’, ‘Veremundus’ and the
Creation of Scottish History

Before proceeding further, it will be useful to take stock briefly and retool so that we have the terminology that will equip us best for a trek into the increasingly shadowy world of lost texts. The intention is to keep the necessity of groping about in the gloom of uncertainty to a minimum by concentrating on those areas which offer the clearest visibility as belonging to the synthesis identified as proto-Fordun. This will include those parts of Fordun's chronicle relating to the chronological structure of early Scottish history, as well as those sections of the narrative of Scottish origins where two or more contradictory passages have been juxtaposed (especially where the passages have been advertised as coming from different sources). Also, it is possible to reconstruct the narrative outline (but not necessarily the very words, of course) of some of the lost sources that have been used by the synthesist. This is relatively straightforward where passages have been attributed to the same text (such as the legenda or historia of St Congal which is the earliest detectable statement of the legend of the Stone of Scone featuring Simón Brecc and Fergus son of Ferchar). It is also possible, in the case of material attributed simply to ‘a chronicle’ or ‘another chronicle’, to use contradictions between passages as a way of distinguishing one source from another, and to reconstruct at least the narrative outline of a few of them by matching together passages that share specific details. Fortunately this task of recovering the narrative shape of some of the lost texts used by the synthesist has already been accomplished in an earlier study, so that it will be necessary on this occasion simply to draw on its conclusions.1 The tools we have can only take us so far, however. Even so, when our way becomes impassable, there will still be an opportunity to shoot an occasional glance towards what is barely discernible in the distance. In particular, it would be unforgivable, after trekking so far into the unknown, not to scan the horizon for at least a glimpse of that most

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