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Celtic background

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It is incorrect to think of Scotland as a wholly Celtic country.

Since the first millennium BC, Scotland has been a place of multiple languages and this tradition continues today. First of all it was Pictish and British; then Gaelic, Norse and Scots came and today it's English, Scots and Gaelic. Nearly all of Scotland was once Gaelic speaking except Orkney, Shetland and Caithness which had a variety of Norse until recent times and East Lothian which was settled by the Angles. Galloway had a Gaelic community which became separated from the Gaelic speaking Highlands and Gaelic was still in use until about the 17th century in Galloway. Gaelic is a Celtic language, like Irish, Scots is a Germanic language like English.

"Poets, scholars and writers in Lowland Scotland up until the 16th century readily acknowledged Gaelic to be the true and original Scottish language. As we know, though, it was an incomer just as much as Anglo-Saxon! For Walter Kennedy 'it suld be al trew Scottis mennis lede': ('Flyting with Dunbar' c.1500)"

section quoted from "Gaelic: a past and future prospect", Kenneth Mackinnon.

Other notable reads include anything by the late Prof Kenneth Jackson, particularly "A Celtic Miscellany", any of John Prebble's books (eg "1000 years of Scottish History") or Nigel Tranter ("The Story of Scotland"). The book "The Lyon in Mourning" about the Jacobite uprising is online here:

Particularly recommended is Michael Lynch's "Scotland: A new history" ISBN 0712698930. 517 pages, published 8-October-1992. The Michael Lynch book is particularly excellent - I have a copy myself and it was also recommended by a friend with a degree in Scottish History. Vast in scope with 25 chapters spanning 18 centuries, from the Picts to the 1980s and aimed at the general reader. However, will miss out on anything related to The Scottish Parliament. More info here: The author is Professor of History at Edinburgh University and President of the Historical Association of Scotland.

For the most up to date recommended guide on Scottish History, take a look at The Oxford Companion to Scottish History edited by Michael Lynch. Hardcover - 758 pages, published October 2001. The Oxford Companion to Scottish History has more than 170 expert contributors. It interprets history broadly, including archaeology, architecture, climate, culture, folk belief, geology, and the langauages of Scotland. It covers more than 20 centuries of history, including immigrants, migrants, and emigrants. It extends from Orkney and Shetland to Galloway, the Western Isles to the Borders. It deals extensively with Scots abroad, from Canada to Russia to New Zealand. It includes entries on historical figures from Columba, Macbeth, and William Wallace to James (Paraffin) Young. It covers Burns Clubs, curling, and shinty. It ranges from clans to Clearances and Covenanters. More information and related books at the following link

If you're interested in Celtic mythology, an excellent online reference is at

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