Attitudes of Gall to Gaedhel in Scotland before John of Fordun
Mìorun Mòr nan Gall, ‘The Great Ill-Will of the Lowlander’? Lowland Perceptions of the Highlands, Medieval and Modern (2007)
It is generally held that the idea of Scotland’s division between Gaelic ‘Highlands’ and Scots or English ‘Lowlands’ can be traced no further back than the mid-to late fourteenth century. One example of the association of the Gaelic language with the highlands from this period is found in Scalacronica (‘Ladder Chronicle’), a chronicle in French by the Northumbrian knight, Sir Thomas Grey. Grey and his father had close associations with Scotland, and so he cannot be treated simply as representing an outsider’s point of view. His Scottish material is likely to have been written sometime between October 1355 and October 1359. He described how the Picts had no wives and so acquired them from Ireland, ‘on condition that their offspring would speak Irish, which language remains to this day in the highlands among those who are called Scots’. There is also an example from the ‘Highlands’ themselves.