Scottish national identity is a term referring to the sense of national identity and common culture of Scottish people and is shared by a considerable majority of the people of Scotland.
Scottish national identity is largely free from ethnic distinction, and it has been noted (Sunday Herald 4 September 2005) that many of "immigrant" descent see themselves (and are seen as), for example, Pakistani and Scottish: Asian-Scots. This contrasts with a tendency in England for such families to be called "British" but not "English". Identification of others as Scottish is generally a matter of accent, and though the various dialects of the Scots language and Scottish English (or the accents of Gaelic speakers) are distinctive, people associate them all together as Scottish with a shared identity, as well as a regional or local identity. Some parts of Scotland, like Glasgow, the Outer Hebrides and the north east of Scotland retain a strong sense of regional identity, alongside the idea of a Scottish national identity.
Some residents of Orkney and Shetland also express a distinct regional identity, influenced by their Norse heritage.
History of Scottish identity
The history of Scotland as a nation state starts in the later period of the so-called Dark Age. Scotland by the 12th century contained what Goidelic "Scots" kingdom of Dál Riata, Galloway, the Brythonic Kingdom of Strathclyde, the Anglo Saxon kingdom of Bernicia and the Pictish Kingdom, the latter's origin being highly contentious. The disparate cultures of Scotland were cemented together firstly by the Viking threat, and latterly in the High Middle Ages by aggression from the neighbouring Kingdom of England. Even though the countries have shared monarchs since the 1603 Union of the Crowns and Parliaments since the Act of Union 1707 the Scottish identity remains strong, though many residents of Scotland will also, or alternatively, identify with Great Britain, the United Kingdom or Europe. Furthermore, Scotland has a large English minority, some of whom continue to identify themselves with England.
Cultural icons in Scotland have changed over the centuries, e.g. the first national instrument was the Clarsach
or Celtic harp
until it was replaced by the Highland pipes in the 15th century. Symbols like the tartan
, the kilt
are widely but not universally liked (or flaunted) by Scots, their establishment as symbols for the whole of Scotland, especially in the Lowlands
, dates back to the early 19th century. This was the age of pseudo-pageantry: the visit of King George IV to Scotland
organised by Sir Walter Scott
. Scott, very much a Unionist and Tory
, was at the same time a great populariser of Scottish mythology through his writings.
- Abstract of Constructing National Identity: Arts and Landed Elites in Scotland, by Frank Bechhofer, David McCrone, Richard Kiely and Robert Stewart, Research Centre for Social Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Cambridge University Press, 1999
- Abstract of The markers and rules of Scottish national identity, by Richard Kiely, Frank Bechhofer, Robert Stewart and David McCrone, The Sociological Review, Volume 49 Page 33 - February 2001,
- National Identities in Post-Devolution Scotland, by Ross Bond and Michael Rosie, Institute of Governance, University of Edinburgh, June 2002
- Abstract of Near and far: banal national identity and the press in Scotland, by Alex Law, University of Abertay Dundee, Media, Culture and Society, Vol. 23, No. 3, 299-317 (2001)
- Abstract of Scottish national identities among inter-war migrants in North America and Australasia, by Angela McCarthy, The Journal of Imperial & Commonwealth History, Volume 34, Number 2 / June 2006
- Scottish Newspapers and Scottish National Identity in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, by IGC Hutchison, University of Stirling, 68th IFLA Council and General Conference, August 18-August 24, 2002
- PDF file from psych.lancs.ac.uk: Vernacular constructions of ‘national identity’ in post-devolution Scotland and England, by Susan Condor and Jackie Abell, to appear in: J. Wilson & K. Stapleton (Eds) Devolution and Identity
- PDF file from essex.ac.uk: Welfare Solidarity in a Devolved Scotland, by Nicola McEwen, Politics, School of Social and Political Studies, University of Edinburgh, European Consortium for Political Research Joint Sessions, 28 March - 2 April 2003