The Scottish Highlands 1500-1800 (at Mary Winspear Centre)


Course description

Kilted Highlanders are recognised the world round. Everyone knows they belong to Scotland, and everyone knows they were organised in clans. If such striking clothing developed amongst a European people, you can assume there were other differences as well: in law, landholding, marriage customs, holidays, belief in the supernatural, etc. And you'd be right.

The seasons began and ended earlier in the Gaelic-speaking Highlands than in English-speaking regions. Trial marriage for a year was a test of a couple's fertility—and the ability to get along with each other of course. The definition of a Highland gentleman in Gaelic terms was very different from that of an English gentleman.

In this course you'll learn about the "clan system" and the history of relations between Highlands and Lowlands. You'll understand something about the end of the "clan system": the changes in the economy, the effect of the Jacobite Rebellions and the beginning of emigration to the New World. And you'll see what personal names belong to the Highlands, the meaning of place names and a few words of the language Highlanders learned at their mother's knee.

The course may not agree in all aspects with what you have read or seen in film, but your knowledge of this unique people will be enriched.

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