I’ve been on a Scottish kick for the last couple of months after reading Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. There are two novelists currently writing trilogies of Robert the Bruce: Robert Low and Robyn Young. They have both published the second book. I prefer Young’s style to Low’s. I also reread three Nigel Tranter novels that I picked up at a second hand bookshop. He was a Scottish historical novelist who wrote about a wide span of Scottish history. I’ve tried to find more fiction on John Graham of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee, but the latest is Rosemary Sutcliff’s Bonnie Dundee, which I have. He’s one of my favourite historical characters. When I visited Scotland many years ago I went to Killiekrankie, the site of his victory over British government forces and of his death in 1689.
I also trawled YouTube for some traditional Scots Celtic music such as Bonnie Dundee and Loch Lomond. It’s rather touching to see and hear a crowd of Scottish football fans at Hampden Park singing the latter, also Flower of Scotland, which is a song by The Corries adopted as an unofficial national anthem. Scotland the Brave doesn’t suit mass singing as well. I discovered a rock band called Runrig who have some Gaelic songs. Best of all I came across some Scottish “tribal” music of bands such as Albannach, Clann An Drumma and Clanadonia. They have one piper and several drummers. Like all traditional music it can soon sound too much the same and become boring, but a couple of tunes at a time are great. I find Clann An Drumma the best because their music has greater variety than the others. The track of theirs that I like the most is Culloden. This version has a longish pipe solo while the video scrolls over the Culloden battlefield then the drums kick in. I love drums and bagpipe music.
I like that these bands dress in clothes that are more like those that would have been worn by the Highlanders than the romanticised clan tartan kilts and jackets introduced in Victorian times.
I have the book by Neil Oliver based on the BBC series A History of Scotland. It’s not long and easy to read, but it gives you a good overview of Scottish history and is well-written. YouTube has the TV series consisting of hour-long episodes. I’m up to the 5th one; they’re interesting and well-presented. My favourite so far is episode 4 that covers the marginalization of the Gaelic part of Scotland under the later Stewarts. It includes some Gaelic poetry. What I found particularly interesting was that “Scots,” the language of the people who were a mix of the original Britons and the Anglo-Saxons in southern Scotland, is derived from Anglo-Saxon, but developed differently to English, which is why it’s similar to English but different. It’s not a dialect of English. Of course now most Scots speak English and Gaelic is an highly endangered language.
Currently stuck in my head are lines from the songs Killiekrankie and the Scottish Soldier.