Good Readers of Scotland discussion

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Can someone explain why the highlanders are famous in history?

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message 1: by Eastofoz (new)

Eastofoz Hi
I read a lot of romantic fiction and I've always wondered why in historical romance authors often talk about the Highlanders. What happened to the Lowlanders? Why are they called Highlanders? The Lowlanders are often mentioned in a very derogatory way so there must be some history here I'm guessing--I don't know much about Scottish history.

Does anyone in Scotland still speak Scottish or is it only English? Has it died out like Welsh?


message 2: by Duntay (last edited Apr 06, 2008 06:57AM) (new)

Duntay | 13 comments "Does anyone in Scotland still speak Scottish or is it only English? Has it died out like Welsh?"

Scots Gaelic was spoken on the West Coast, Western Isles and some parts of the Highlands. It is related to Irish Gaelic. It is still spoken, though it is a minority language. Like Welsh, which has not died out,either. Some people in the Lowlands and northeast stil speak Scots or Doric. Sometimes these are considered dialects of English, but there is a movement to get them considered languages in their own right.

You will really need to read a good Scottish history book to answer your questions properly.


message 3: by Allan (new)

Allan (macindog) | 15 comments Scottish Gaelic is by no means dead. The company I work for actively promotes it by translating all of our web sites into Gaelic and we're currently working on a Gaelic version of OpenOffice.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scottish...

Not sure about the Highlander/Lowlander thing but Highlanders are so called because they lived in what we call the Highlands, which includes the hilly bits and is North and West of the Highland Boundary Fault. The lowlands is usually referring to the Borders and Central Region counties, which aren't so hilly.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scottish...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scottish...


message 4: by Alan (new)

Alan (alanclark) | 8 comments The Highlander/Lowlander thing is a bit complicated - both groups seem to have treated the other with suspition and contempt in the past.

People often think of the Highlands as if it is Scotland - but there's a lot to the Lowlands, too. There's a great deal of history in these parts though I think most of that can be overlooked when confronted by the tartanalia of the kilt - something, I'm told, that was largely introduced to Scotland by Walter Scott during a visit from the King (one of the Georges, I seem to remember, who resided in England and didn't come north often). And then the whole romantic Highland thing took legs when Queen Victoria fell in love with Deeside, and it became fashionable in London to copy the Queen's taste for a Highland retreat. (Please correct me if I'm wrong, folks, I'm not an historian.)

Language-wise, Gaelic is still alive and kicking, and, I think, quite similar to Irish, but there are precious few Gaelic speakers where I'm fron (near the Scotland / England border). These are not the same as Welsh, which is also still alive and well, though they come from the same root.

There's a bit of debate as to whether the way Lowlanders spoke in the past, or speak now, is a dialect of English, or is a distinct language. It is usually called Scots, or Lallans. It was often seen as the language of the common folk and frowned upon by the intelligentia who needed to speak English to appear educated. There are differences with English, for example with the surname Menzies, which is pronounced Mingies.

If you are interested in the history of the Lowlands one of the books I've read about the border area that is particularly good in The Steel Bonnets by George MacDonald Fraser. ISBN is 0002727463. That gives a good flavour of Scottish / English rivalry and an indication that the clan system was not only a Highland thing.

There are many different historic periods to look at if you really get in to it.



message 5: by Eastofoz (new)

Eastofoz Hi Alan
Thanks for the info! So you're the real deal then ;) I was wondering if there was anyone from Scotland in this group or if it was just people interested in the country/people.
Thanks for the info. I'll have to check out that book you recommended.



Pamela(AllHoney) (pamelap) I'm just interested myself. Love the Scottish romances but according to my grandmother I do have Scottish ancestry from long long ago.


message 7: by Kirstin (new)

Kirstin  Ingram  (drgirlfriend) | 4 comments I am from Scotland.
Where I live people tend to speak scots/doric which is basically english with a few different word in which I can't understand personally but my dad talks it.
Not really sure about the whole highlander/lowlander thing, probably because Im a kinda inbetween being in Aberdeen which is lowland but usually said to be part of the highlands, really its in the middle. I also know a few people who speak Gaelic, but they don't come from Aberdeenshire originally.


message 8: by Old-Barbarossa (last edited Aug 17, 2008 02:22AM) (new)

Old-Barbarossa The Highland/Lowland thing has a bunch of roots.
Now I'm just glossing over here...oversimplifying maybe, but it'll give you an idea.
There's the obvious geographical thing - communication was more difficult in the highlands due to natural barriers; post Reformation division - mainly Catholic Highlands/Protestant Lowlands; the split between farming and industry; the more Anglo influenced Lowlands/Hiberno-norse influenced Highlands and Islands.
You have to remember that Scotland wasn't a country (like it is now) until medieval times. Bits were Scandinavian, and the Hebrides were as near independant entities as you can get under the Lordship of the Isles...and many noble families (the Bruces included) had land in England and France as well, so ideas of loyalty were a wee bit blurred. Also, ideas of nationhood weren't what they are now (if they were there at all).
But back to your original question:
I think one of the reasons Highlanders are famous in history is as a result of their use as shock troops during the days of the "British Empire".
Also the idea of "the noble savage" springs to mind.
After the attempt to crush the culture (post '45) and after the clans (and Jacobites) became less of a threat I think the romantic ideal of Highlanders started to seep into the general British cultural landscape (the novels of Walter Scott/MacPherson's Ossian/Victoria and Balmoral).
I think a good parallel would be the way Native Americans are thought of in some circles.


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

When I lived in Suffolk the Welsh had their own TV station and it was all in Welsh. So I didn't think it had died out.


message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

Pamela(AllHoney) wrote: "I'm just interested myself. Love the Scottish romances but according to my grandmother I do have Scottish ancestry from long long ago."

Same for me. The only Scottish name I have is McCraw which is derived from McRae I read. I am very proud of it. We have a book on Scottish Clans and Tartans by Ian Grimble which we refer to every so often.


Terry (Ter05 TwiMoms/ MundieMoms) (ter05) | 1 comments Everything Scotland is so interesting to me. I have no interest in the other parts of my ancestry but my grandfather was born in Scotland. He was a Baxter (my maiden name), his mother was a Stewart. A cousin traced the geneology back to The unfortunate Queen Mary who was beheaded - probably my only famous ancestor!


message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

I am very interested in genealogy and actually in all my ancestors names. At least you are lucky enough to have a famous ancestor, that is good! I don't have a single one.


message 13: by Mrs. C. (last edited Feb 27, 2011 10:55AM) (new)

Mrs. C. | 6 comments Old Barbarossa is correct in his delineation of Reformation history as the Highlands being primarily devoted to Catholicism and to the Stewart cause, especially that of "Bonnie Prince Charlie," who made his escape from Scotland by way of Inverness. A statue still stands there commemorating Flora McDonald, the woman who helped him escape by disguising him as one of her maids. However, not all the Highlanders were Catholics. The Munro clan of Inverness (my mother's family) were Protestants early on and were among those who fought for the Hanoverians against the "Bonnie Prince" at the Battle of Culloden, a brutal battle which ended the Jacobite cause forever. After that, the wearing of clan tartans was forbidden by the Crown, and the Highlands ceased to be a threat. For a long time, Highlanders were perceived perhaps a little like the Deep South was considered to many Northern Americans in the wake of the Civil War, but the romance of the Highlands was revived in the works of Sir Walter Scott, whose Waverly novels are set in 17th- and 18th-century Scotland and concern the times of the troubles. Scott, basically a Church of England man, was married to a Catholic, and his books tend not to villainize either the Catholics or the Presbyterians (or even the Covenanters, who were hated and persecuted by the Church of England and by other Presbyterians). His first novel in this series is the one entitled *Waverley*, from which the series takes its name, but each of the books is a stand-alone. The novels do not constitute a trilogy or ongoing story of that type. You can find a list of those books by googling "Waverley novels." Scott's prose is a bit turgid to our ears, but you'll get used to it. To catch the Scottish dialect in the dialogue of the novels, Scott employed "spelling pronunciations" (as Mark Twain did in *Huck Finn*), so reading those parts aloud will help you to figure out the word. After awhile, you'll also figure out what some of the Scots words mean, such as "bairns" for "children" and "maun" for "must." I particularly loved *Rob Roy*, even though the title character only figures in one scene of the book, but you will certainly feel the atmosphere of the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Highlands as you read that one.


message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

My favorite book on this subject is Devil Water by Anya Seton. I forget the time period tho. I have even read it several times but so forgetful.


Devil Water


message 15: by Mrs. C. (new)

Mrs. C. | 6 comments A novel which is sympathetic to the Covenanters is *Hunted and Harried* by R. M. Ballantyne. Also, Robert Louis Stevenson's *Kidnapped* is set in the eighteenth century and is based on actual incidents, especially the assassination of Colin Roy Campbell by members of the Stewart clan in 1752. The incident is referred to in history as the "Appin Murder." One of Stevenson's characters, Alan Breck Stewart, was an actual person, but Stevenson built a fictional tale around the incident. Stevenson always had a sense of balance about him, so he does not paint either side (the Catholic Stewarts or the Protestant Campbells) as all evil or all good. Rather, he shows how a Protestant boy from the Lowlands (the kidnapped character) and Alan Breck Stewart (a Scottish Catholic in league with the French) must help each other survive in the rugged Highlands. It's a great story, which has been done in film more than once. The one that best explains what the fighting is all about is the one in which Iain Glen plays the role of Alan Breck (though I think the actor is a bit old for the character as Stevenson conceived him). Even in this one, the religious differences are downplayed, perhaps in deference to our modern sensibilities.


message 16: by [deleted user] (last edited Feb 28, 2011 01:20PM) (new)

Eileen wrote: "A novel which is sympathetic to the Covenanters is *Hunted and Harried* by R. M. Ballantyne. Also, Robert Louis Stevenson's *Kidnapped* is set in the eighteenth century and is based on actual inci..."

Sounds like a very good book that I would enjoy very much! It may remind me of a Norah Lofts book which has a title from an old saying.....Out of this Nettle.
In it the lad has to run for his life too. He ends up in the sugar islands where he is a slave. I forgot the exact politics that caused him to have to flee so I guess its time to read that one again too.

Hunted and Harried
Out of This Nettle


message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

Very surprised to find there is not a single review or rating for this book Hunted and Harried.

Hunted and Harried


message 18: by Mrs. C. (new)

Mrs. C. | 6 comments *Hunted and Harried* was published in 1892. I and one other person have reviewed it on Amazon.


message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

Oh, I will check Amazon. You might want to give it 5 stars here and a short review for people like me who stay mainly on goodreads. My copy of Out of This Nettle was published in 1976 and the pages are very brittle. I need a new one but.....

thanks, Alice


message 20: by Old-Barbarossa (new)

Old-Barbarossa Eileen wrote: "A novel which is sympathetic to the Covenanters is *Hunted and Harried* by R. M. Ballantyne. Also, Robert Louis Stevenson's *Kidnapped* is set in the eighteenth century and is based on actual inci..."

Aye, Kidnapped and also The Master of Ballantrae: A Winter's Tale touch on the '45 and the aftermath. Like much of Stevenson's work they play upon the duality of things.
Another wee insight into the god bothering that caused a bunch of issues in Scots Hx is The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner.


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