Hugh Trevor-Roper: Eminent historian debunks Scottish history as largely fabrication

Historians in the News

SCOTLAND’S history is weaved from a “fraudulent” fabric of “myths and falsehoods”, according to an explosive new study by one of the world’s most eminent historians.

The Invention of Scotland: Myth and History, is the last book, and one of the most controversial, written by the late Hugh Trevor-Roper.

Now, five years after his death, the book is to be published at one of the most pivotal periods in Scottish political history.

It will provide an inflammatory contribution to the constitutional debate as it debunks many claims upon which the argument for independence is founded.

n the book, Trevor-Roper claims that Scotland’s literary and political traditions, which claim to date back to the Roman invasion of Scotland in the first century AD, are in fact based on myth and were largely invented in the 18th century.

Even the kilt, the ultimate sartorial symbol of Scottishness, was invented by an Englishman in the 1700s. The Declaration of Arbroath, presented to the then Pope in 1320 to confirm Scotland’s status as an independent state with an ancient constitution, is dismissed as being loaded with inaccuracies. It contains information on “imaginary” kings of ancient Scotland, created by historians, to provide false evidence that the Scots arrived north of the border from Ireland in the third century AD, before the Picts....

Related Links

  • In an exclusive extract from his book The Invention of Scotland: Myth and History, the late historian tells how the country's story is based on fiction
  • Read entire article at Times (UK)

    comments powered by Disqus

    More Comments:

    Brian D Finch - 5/21/2008

    Hugh Trevor-Roper (also known as Lord Dacre) is jokingly referred to among Scottish historians as 'Lord Facre' - in reference to his great 'triumph' of authenticating the Hitler Diaries for Rupert Murdoch's (London) Times.

    He takes his title of Dacre from one of the English March Wardens who was utterly humiliated when Walter Scott of Buccleugh carried of one of the greatest jailbreaks in history in breaking into Carlisle Castle and springing Kinmont Willie Armstrong from his cell. In the taking of the castle and the escape, no-one was killed - but Dacre was mortified as Elizabeth of England was furious and James of Scotland was howling with laughter. The story is told in the Border Ballad of 'Kinmont Willie'. It is great fun.

    No, Hugh Trevor-Roper (Lord Dacre) does not love Scotland. Well, tough...

    Rod McCaslin - 5/21/2008

    Trevor-Roper was a giant of history, but he suffered from a strange chracter flaw- Scotophobia. From the excerpt, the arguments in his posthumously published book are tired and already well known discussions of the "myths" of Scottish national identity. It is hardly news (and there seems to be nothing new in this book)to discover that nations create myths about their past that are popularly believed. Scotland certainly doesn't hold a monopoly on national myth-making.
    How this realization somehow weakens the argument for Scottish independence eludes me.