Article

Mythical Scotland

Colin Kidd and James Coleman

in The Oxford Handbook of Modern Scottish History

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199563692
Published online November 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199563692.013.0004

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

 Mythical Scotland

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Historically, Scotland's myths have been subject to the fickleness and changing whims of ideological fashion, and turn out to have had much less staying power than the nation, whose supposed enduring essence they are meant to represent. It is possible to discern at least four distinct ‘moments’ of national mythmaking in Scotland between the sixteenth century and the present. These comprise the refashioning in the sixteenth century by the humanist Hector Boece and the humanist reformer George Buchanan of the origin legend of the Scottish nation inherited from the late medieval era; the replacement of this spurious account of Celtic antiquity in the 1760s by an equally fabulous account derived from what was believed to be epic poetry composed by a blind bard by the name of Ossian in the third century AD; the emergence of another romantic myth of Scots highlandism in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century; and, finally, in the nineteenth century, the myth of a democratic, Whig-Liberal Presbyterian tradition.

Keywords: Scotland; myths; mythmaking; Hector Boece; George Buchanan; epic poetry; Ossian; highlandism; Presbyterian tradition

Article.  8227 words. 

Subjects: History ; Social and Cultural History

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