Britain and the beginning of Scotland

by Dauvit Broun

14 Apr 2016
10.5871/jba/003.107

Full text posted to Journal of the British Academy, volume 3, pp. 107-137.


Abstract: A British dimension is crucial for understanding the earliest stage in the emergence in the late 12th century of an idea of Scotland, in its most basic sense, as the country we recognise today. It also lies at the heart of the origins of the earliest idea of Scotland that can be detected: the notion of Scotland as the country north of the Forth, an idea that can be traced back to the Picts. In both cases, the overriding concern was to accentuate Scotland's separateness from the sourth. Being British may be an essential element of any explanation of Scotland's beginings, but only in a way that suggests that Scotland's place in Britain has from the beginning been inherently uneasy.


Keywords: Cinaed mac Ailpín, charters, royal/baronial justice, Henry II, Alba, Britons, Forth, Pictish symbols, Pictish king-list


Sir John Rhys Memorial Lecture, read 5 December 2013 (video recording)



Text printed 2016 in British Academy Lectures 2014-15


Sign up to our email newsletters