Eric Evans

  • Scottish Society 1500-1800 edited by R.A. Houston and I.D. Whyte
    Cambridge, 298 pp, £30.00, February 1989, ISBN 0 521 32522 6

For too many British historians, Scotland still remains another country. So-called ‘British histories’ remain predominantly Anglocentric, though more writers nowadays either acknowledge guilt or confess lack of expertise when passing off English history as if it were British. Until about twenty years ago, the isolation of Scotland from an English historical heritage was understandable, if not pardonable. Scottish historians, many operating within the secure ramparts of ‘departments of Scottish history’, produced solidly researched and aggressively insular treatments of their nation. These had the effect of discouraging cross-border fraternisation almost as effectively as the incursions of their territorially-minded 14th-century forebears had done. Scottish history, it seemed, was both too serious and too separate a business to risk dilution either by incorporating historical ideas and techniques developed further south or by seeking to share insights to advance a truly ‘British’ history.

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