Hugh Trevor-Roper: His passion to debunk myths about Scotland

Historians in the News

The historian Hugh Trevor-Roper, who died in 2003, was often depicted as hostile to the Scots (or 'Scotch', as he insisted on calling them). Yet, as he would sometimes remark, he had a long association with Scotland and its people.

He was brought up in Northumberland, only 20 miles or so from the border. As a boy he had been cared for by a Scots nanny, before attending a preparatory school in Dunbar.

After an interval, he married a Scots wife, and together they bought a home near Melrose, where he lived during the university vacations for almost 30 years. He devoted a portion of his working life to studying and writing about Scottish history. In the mid-1970s he was active in the campaign against Scottish 'devolution'; his motive was not dislike of the Scots, but rather his belief in the benefits of the Union, to England and Scotland alike.

It may have been this cause, now lost, which focused his mind on Scottish history.

Trevor-Roper was repelled by Scottish nationalism's appeal to atavistic tribal loyalties. He knew that historical myth, however innocently concocted, could have unforeseen, even pernicious, consequence; the romantic fantasies of Goethe and Wagner had fired the imagination of the Nazis.

Trevor-Roper believed that 'the whole history of Scotland has been coloured by myth', and he took it upon himself to address some of these myths in this book, largely written in the 1970s, but set aside while still in draft. His former pupil, Jeremy Cater, has skilfully edited the text and has added a useful foreword....
Read entire article at Adam Sisman in the Telegraph

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Brian D Finch - 6/18/2008


We've no history?
Then, were we born yesterday?
By some mystery?