Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

June 2019 (Vol. 42, Number 12)

Gracing our front cover: The city of Edinburgh, one of the cities ready to welcome visitors to Scotland this summer. Photo: VisitScotland.

The Banner Says…

Keeping Scottish history alive

Each month in the Scottish Banner we cannot let an issue go out without covering a piece on Scottish history. The story of Scotland is incredibly complex, amazing, brutal and layered. It really is a case that fact is stranger than fiction when it comes to the tales of Scotland’s story.

There are of course countless books covering all the drama and intrigue of Scotland’s past, as well as numerous films and television productions. The international hit show and best-selling book series, Outlander, certainly is helping Scotland’s tourism industry with both UK and international visits up across Scotland and at the various historic sites and locations associated with the hit show and books.

Scottish history survey

However, it was surprising to recently learn many Scottish school children are not learning about the incredible story of Scotland and their very own people. A survey recently commissioned by The Edinburgh Dungeon looking into Scots’ knowledge of their own history has revealed that half of 16–24 year old’s in Scotland don’t know William Wallace defeated the English at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297. As thousands of school pupils across Scotland recently sat their end of year exams, the survey showed one in six Scots aged 16-24 said they didn’t learn any Scottish history at school.

More than a third of respondents said they learned more about history from films, such as the recent Mary Queen of Scots movie, starring Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie. The survey probed Scots’ awareness of key events and characters, with one of the questions asking respondents to match famous figures with historical facts. The report found three quarters of Scots could correctly match Mary to the fact that she was imprisoned for 19 years before being beheaded in 1587.

Despite Netflix’ blockbuster Outlaw King streaming into homes around the globe, with Chris Pine in the title role of Robert the Bruce, when it came to naming which battle he won, just over half of the young Scots (53%), aged 16-24 did not know that Robert the Bruce led the Scots to victory against the English at the Battle of Bannockburn.

The survey also looked at where Scots get their knowledge of Scottish history from and reveals three in five Scots of all ages are learning about it from television. Ironically, when asked who invented the television, only 14% knew it was Helensburgh-born engineer, John Logie Baird.

On being polled about more history being taught in Scottish schools, 82% of Scots agreed this should be the case, while four in five said it should be taught in a more engaging and interactive way.

In this issue

It is one of the most talked about television shows in the world. I may be one of the few on the planet who have yet to see Game of Thrones, a show where history is re-imagined as fantasy. We welcome back David C. Weinczok this month who draws on a vast array of characters, events, places, and themes from Scottish history that echo Game of Thrones at every dramatic turn.

The Edinburgh Playhouse is the UK’s largest theatre and celebrates its 90th birthday this year, bringing audiences the best in live entertainment in the heart of Edinburgh. The stories generated from this cultural landmark do not just come from the stage but also the building itself. The Playhouse has hosted many big names over the past nine decades from royalty to music and theatre legends. The building has been saved by a group of passionate locals who love it as much as some big names such as Billy Connolly and the resident ghost called Albert.

This month on June 21st the world celebrates Arctic Day, on what is generally the longest day of the year and when the arctic is bathed in 24- hour daylight throughout the Arctic Circle. There is now also a Scottish connection to this day as a campaign to get people to wear Antarctic and Arctic tartan ribbons to raise awareness that our polar regions are warming, and the ice is melting fast. Long-time readers may recall the Scottish Banner first highlighted the Antarctic tartan back in 2000 and this month we are pleased to again highlight this great tartan and this initiative of the world’s first Polar Awareness Day.

Scotland keeps enticing us to discover more

These are just some of the stories we have this month. As you work through this month’s edition you will see that Scotland’s history is very much making news today. The story of Scotland keeps enticing us to discover more and I can only hope that more Scottish school kids can have the opportunity to learn their own amazing history. And whilst it is great that Scotland is being featured on the big and small screen around the world, I hope Scottish kids learn their past in school accurately rather than through a dramatised version. I would have thought Scottish history would be one of the most interesting classes around, surely it must be just as exciting as any student’s video game or what they are reading on their phones??!

Someone once told me Scottish history was like doing a family tree, you often find something you were not expecting, and at times can learn something you are shocked by. There are few countries I can think of that can offer such an intriguing and dramatic past, let’s hope the story is never forgotten.

Do you think Scottish history should be more widely taught in Scotland or did you learn Scottish history in school?  Do you have any comments on this month’s editorial or edition? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us