02/01/2018
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Scotland Connected - placing Scottish history into a worldwide context

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Dr Anna Groundwater introduces Scotland Connected, a new book which places events from Scottish history alongside key world and British history dates.

Scotland Connected: a Timeline for Scottish History in the Wider World is a new resource for Scottish history enthusiasts and students. It places a timeline for significant dates in Scottish history alongside those for the rest of the British Isles, and another for the wider world. These timelines map the history of the kingdom of Scotland, showing how events there connect (or otherwise) into the histories of its neighbours in Britain and Europe, and countries far beyond.

Exploring centuries of history

Presenting Scottish history over the longer period, from 0 to 2017, builds a framework for understanding the development of Scotland from the ‘land of the Scots’ into the kingdom of Scotland, its place within the British Isles, and after 1707, Great Britain. We see Scotland emerging, with its own distinct history, its national stories, its own laws and customs.

And perhaps its most important story is that created out of the hybridity at our core: Gaels, Britons, Picts, Norsemen, Anglo-Normans, lowlanders, highlanders, and more recent immigration have contributed to the complexity of Scottishness, and the country’s histories.

Long-term changes

At the same time, Scotland Connected looks outwards to changing connections, fluctuating horizons. From our early connections westwards within Gaeldom, and northwards to Scandinavia, there was a refocusing on the ‘auld alliance’ with France, and from the 1560s, a new Protestant-driven friendship with the ‘auld enemy’ England.

Then, enabled by Union with England (for good or bad), Scottish horizons expanded westwards across the Atlantic to the Americas, and south-eastwards within the empire to India and beyond.

These connections were embodied by a Scottish diaspora that maintained its links with home. Then following the fading of imperial contexts, Scottish horizons refocused again on Europe. Most recently, we’ve seen a repositioning of Scotland within the political framework of the slightly less United Kingdom. Scotland Connected charts these political and social upheavals suggesting their place within longer-term processes.

The Scots language

Interspersed throughout are quotations from seminal Scottish literary, journalistic, political and historical writing, travel accounts and diaries, and acts of parliament. The richness of the language in these draw the reader into the related events in the timeline. In part, this book is a celebration of the beauty of the Scots language, particularly in its older forms. Texts, such as the Declaration of Arbroath of 1320 (pictured), and the Crofters Holdings Act of 1886, are reproduced in world cloud form (‘wordles’) which reflect the frequency of the most used words within them, and suggest their emphases. In themselves, these wordles create images out of words.

Scotland is a land of many stories, evocative writing, rich language – and a distinct history. Scotland Connected reminds us of that history, one all too often overlooked in Anglocentric British history.

Receive a free copy of Scotland Connected when you take out an annual UK print subscription to History Scotland. For our monthly, overseas and digital subscription offers, visit our subscriptions page.

Scotland Connected, by Dr Anna Groundwater, is published by Luath Press at £9.99.

Wordle image copyright Jonathan Feinberg, Wordle, 2014: http://www.wordle.net

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