Student Notes

The aim of this chapter is to get you to think of ‘Scotland’ as an idea, a concept, rather than simply a place, a territory. The notion of Scotland as a ‘place’ (geography) is obvious enough, but we can also think of Scotland as an object in ‘time’. Benedict Anderson (in Imagined Communities) once observed that nations ‘move calendrically through time’, that is, they move steadily down through history, and this is what the chapter is trying to get at. Put simply, why should we think that there are any continuities between Scotland in the 14th and 21st centuries as ‘imagined communities’?

In this chapter, we ask:

  • Where did the ‘idea’ of Scotland come from; what are its origins? In other words, when was Scotland?
  • What impact did the Union of 1707 have on Scotland, its institutions and identity?
  • How viable are the arguments that Scotland was ‘over’, that with the loss of formal independence it ceased to be a proper ‘society’, and that its culture was weak and divided?