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Anti-Scottish sentiment is disdain, envy, fear or hatred for Scotland, the Scots or Scottish culture. It is sometimes referred to as Scotophobia[1][2] (which also means fear of the dark).

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Middle Ages

Much of the negative literature of the middle ages drew heavily on the writings from Greek and Roman antiquity. The writings of Ptolemy in particular dominated concepts of Scotland till the late Medieval period and drew on stereotypes perpetuating fictitious as well as satirical accounts of the Kingdom of the Scots. The English Church and the propaganda of royal writs from 1337-1453 encouraged a barbarous image of the kingdom as it allied with England's enemy France, during the Hundred Years' War.[3] Medieval authors seldom visited Scotland but called on such accounts as "common knowledge", influencing the works of Boece's "Scotorum Historiae" (Paris 1527) and Camden's "Brittania" (London 1586) plagiarising and perpetuating negative attitudes. In the 16th century Scotland and particularly the Gaelic speaking Highlands were characterised as lawless, savage and filled with wild Scots. As seen in Camden's account to promote an image of the nation as a wild and barbarous people:

"They drank the bloud [blood] out of wounds of the slain: they establish themselves, by drinking one anothers bloud [blood] and suppose the great number of slaughters they commit, the more honour they winne [win] and so did the Scythians in old time. To this we adde [add] that these wild Scots, like as the Scythians, had for their principall weapons, bowes and arrows."Camden (1586)[4]

Camden's accounts were modified to compare the Highland Scots to the inhabitants of Ireland (then thought of as the most barbarous people in Europe).[5] Negative stereotypes flourished and by 1634, Austrian Martin Zeiller linked the origins of the Scots to the Scythians and in particular the Highlander to the Goths based on their wild and Gothic-like appearance. Quoting the 4th century Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus,[6] he describes the Scots as descendants of the tribes of the British Isles who were unruly trouble makers. With a limited amount of information, the Medieval geographer embellished such tales, including, less favourable assertions that the ancestors of Scottish people were cannibals.[7] A spurious accusation proposed by Saint Jerome's tales of Scythian atrocities was adapted to lay claims as evidence of cannibalism in Scotland. Despite the fact that there is no evidence of the ancestors of the Scots in ancient Gaul,[8] moreover St. Jerome's text was a mistranslation of Attacotti,[9] another tribe in Roman Britain, the myth of cannibalism was attributed to the people of Scotland:

"What shall I [St. Jerome] say of other nations - how when I was in Gaul as a youth I saw the Scots, a British race, eating human flesh, and how, when these men came upon the forests upon heards of swine and sheep, and cattle, they would cut off the buttocks of the shepards and paps [breasts] of the woman and hold these for their greatest delicasy."


A part of the spurious De Situ Britanniae.

Accepted as fact with no evidence, such ideas were encouraged and printed as seen in De Situ Britanniae a fictitious account of the peoples and places of Roman Britain. It was published in 1757, after having been made available in London in 1749. Accepted as genuine for more than one hundred years, it was virtually the only source of information for northern Britain (i.e., modern Scotland) for the time period, and historians eagerly incorporated its spurious information into their own accounts of history. The Attacotti were mentioned in De Situ Britanniae, and their homeland was specified[10][11] as just north of the Firth of Clyde, near southern Loch Lomond, in the region of Dumbartonshire. This information was combined with legitimate historical mentions of the Attacotti to produce inaccurate histories and to make baseless conjectures. For example, Edward Gibbon combined De Situ Britanniae with St. Jerome's description of the Attacotti by musing on the possibility that a ‘race of cannibals’ had once dwelt in the neighbourhood of Glasgow.

These views were echoed in the works of Dutch, French and German authors. Nicolaus Hieronymus Gundling proposed that the exotic appearance and cannibalism of the Scottish people made them akin to the savages of Madagascar. Even as late as the mid-18th century, German authors likened Scotland and its ancient population to the exotic tribes of the South Seas.[12] With the close political ties of the Franco-Scottish alliance in the late Medieval period, before William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, English Elizabethan theatre dramatised the Scots and Scottish culture as comical, alien, dangerous and an uncivilised. In comparison to the manner of Frenchmen who spoke a form of English,[13] Scots were used in material for comedies; including Robert Greene’s James IV in a fictitious English invasion of Scotland satirizing the long Medieval wars with Scotland. English fears and prejudices were deeply rooted, drawing on stereotypes as seen in Raphael Holinshed’s Chronicles and politically edged material such as George Chapman’s Eastward Hoe in 1605, offended King James with its anti-Scottish satire, resulting in the imprisonment of the playwright.[14] Despite this, the play was never banned or suppressed. Authors such as Claude Jordan de Colombier in 1697 plagiarised earlier works,[15] Counter-reformation propaganda associated the Scots and particularly Highland Gaelic-speakers as barbarians from the north[16] who wore nothing but animal skins. Confirming old stereotypes relating back to Roman and Greek philosophers in the idea that "dark forces" from northern Europe (soldiers from Denmark, Sweden, Netherlands, France and Scotland) acquired a reputation as fierce warriors.[17][18][19] With Lowland soldiers along the North Sea and Baltic Sea, as well as Highland mercenaries wearing distinctive scottish kilt, became synonymous with that of wild, rough and fierce fighting men.[20]

Anti-Scottish propaganda in the 18th century

File:Sawney beane.jpg

Sawney Beane at the Entrance of His Cave. published in the 1720's The Newgate Calendar caption: The woman in the background carries a severed leg.

Stereotypes of Scottish cannibalism lasted till the mid-18th century and were embraced by English political and anti-Jacobite propaganda, in reaction to a series of Jacobite uprisings, rebellions, in the British Isles between 1688 and 1746. The Jacobean uprisings themselves in reaction to the Glorious Revolution of 1688, were aimed at returning James VII of Scotland and II of England, and later his descendants of the House of Stuart. Anti-Jacobite prodominantly anti-Scottish propaganda of the period includes publications include the 1720s the London NewGate Calander a popular monthly bulletin of executions, produced by the keeper of Newgate Prison in London. One Newgate publication created the legend of Sawney Bean, the head of a forty-eight strong clan of incestual, lawless and cannibalistic family in Galloway. Although based on fiction, the family were reported by the Calander to have murdered and cannibalised over one thousand victims. Along with the Bible and John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress, the Calendar was famously in the top three works most likely to be found in the average home and the Calendar's title was appropriated by other publications, who put out biographical chapbooks. With the intent to create a work of fiction to demonstrate the superiority of the British establishment in contrast to the savage pro-Jacobean, uncivilised Scots.[21][22]

From 1701−1720 a sustained Whig campaign of anti-Jacobean pamphleteering across Britain and Ireland sought to halt Jacobitism as a political force and undermine the claim of James II and VII to the British throne. In 1705 Whig politicians in the Scottish parliament voted to sustain a status quo and to award financial incentives of £4,800 to each writer having served the interests of the nation.[23][24] Such measures had the opposite effect and furthered the Scots towards the cause, enabling Jacobitism flourish as a sustaining political presence in Scotland.[25] Pro-Jacobite writings and pamphleteers e.g. Walter Harries and William Setton were liable to imprisonment of for producing in the eyes of the government seditious or scurrilous tracts and all copies or works were seized or destroyed. [26] Anti-Jacobite Pamphleteering, as an example An Address to All True Englishmen[27] routed a sustained propaganda war with Scotland’s pro-Stuart supporters ensued and British Whig campaigners pushed a pro-British and the anti-Celtic nature of Williamite satire[28] resulting in a backlash by pro-Jacobean Scottish pamphleteers.

As Scots both Lowland and Highland with supporters elsewhere in the British Isles sided in the last major Jacobite risings of 1715 and 1745, the British government increased the xenophobic or anti-Scottish sentiment shifting the stereotypical image of a Jacobite from English, Welsh or Irish to that of being a Scot. From 1720 anti-Jacobite and anti-Catholic literature sought to remove the Jacobite, the Scot, the Highlander being beyond the pale, or an enemy of John Bull or a unified Britain and Ireland as seen in Thomas Page's The Use of the Highland Broadsword published in 1746.[29] Propaganda of the time included the minting of anti-Jacobite or Scottish medals,[30] and political cartoons to promote the Scots as a barbaric and backward people,[31] similar in style to the 19th century depiction of the Irish as being backward or barbaric. English supporters of the government were likely to view all Scots as disloyal Highlanders, especially in the political cartoons depicting the jacobite’s as an unprepared rabble or in the modification of the anti-Irish song Lillibulero claiming although without proof, during the rising of 1745 the Scots marched unprepared without shoes.[32] Plays like William Shakespeare’s Scottish play Macbeth,was popularised and considered a pro-English (British), pro-Hanoverian, anti-rebel and anti-Stuart play.[13] Printings included Sawney in The Boghouse itself a reference to the tale of Sawney Bean depicted the Scots dressed as a Highlander, too stupid to use a lavatory and gave a particularly 18th century edge to traditional depictions of cannibalism and such ideas were modified to smear Africans as cannibals in the following century in the colonial age.[33] The Highlander and Scottish people were promoted as brutish thugs, figures of ridicule and no match for the English modern army. They were feminised as a parody of the female disguise used by Bonny Prince Charlie in his escape,[34] and as savage warriors that needed the guiding hand of the Anglo-British to render them civilised.[35]

File:William Hogarth 063.jpg

"Roastbeef" William Hogarth's francophobic painting The Gate of Calais or O! The Roast Beef of Old England, in which In the foreground, a Highlander, an exile from the Jacobite rising of 1745,[36] sits slumped against the wall, his strength sapped by the poor French fare – a raw onion and a crust of bread.

Depictions included the Highland clad Scots as ill-dressed and ill-fed, loutish and verminous usually in league with the French[37] as can be seen in William Hogarth’s 1748 painting The Gate of Calais with a Highlander exile sits slumped against the wall, his strength sapped by the poor French fare – a raw onion and a crust of bread. Political cartoons in 1762 depicts the Earl of Bute (a vocal pro-Jacobean) as a poor John Bull depicted with a bulls head with crooked horns ridden by Scotland taking bribes from a French monkey[38] Anti-Jacobite or Scottish sentiment was captured in a verse appended to various songs, including in its original form as a an anti-jacobite song Ye Jacobites By Name, God save the King with a prayer for the success of Field Marshal George Wade's army which attained some short-term use debatably in the late 18th century. This song was widely adopted and was to become the national anthem of Britain now known as God Save the Queen (but never since sung with that verse).

Lord, grant that Marshal Wade,
May by thy mighty aid,
Victory bring.
May he sedition hush,
and like a torrent rush,
Rebellious Scots to crush,
God save the King.

The 1837 article and other sources make it clear that this verse was not used soon after 1745, and certainly before the song became accepted as the British national anthem in the 1780s and 1790s.[39] On the opposing side, Jacobite beliefs were demonstrated in an alternative verse used during the same period:[40]

God bless the prince, I pray,
God bless the prince, I pray,
Charlie I mean;
That Scotland we may see
Freed from vile Presbyt'ry,
Both George and his Feckie,
Ever so, Amen.

Anti-Scottish attacks

There have been a number of racist assaults on Scots by English people in recent years. In 2004 a Scottish war veteran was beaten up by a gang with bricks for having a Scottish accent.[41] In Aspatria, Cumbria, a group of Scottish schoolgirls needed police protection after being attacked at a carnival.[42] In Bolton, in 2008, a 10 year-old Scottish girl was shot in the face with a BB gun by a boy who objected to her Scottish accent.[43] An English football supporter was banned for life for shouting "Kill all the Jocks" before attacking Scottish football fans.[44]

Additionally, there have been accounts of anti-Scottish hate campaigns in England which have resulted in Scots being forced out of their homes.[45][46]

There have been several recent cases of Scots being victims of racist attacks by English people within Scotland, suggesting that anti-Scottish attitudes are also prevalent among English people who choose to live or holiday in Scotland.[47][48][49]

Pejorative terms

Racist, or pejorative[citation needed], anti-Scottish terms include "jock", "scotch" and "sweaty" - the last of these being cockney rhyming slang.

In the media

A stereotypical Scotsman is often depicted as being fiery-tempered or miserly. Examples include: Groundskeeper Willie, Private Frazer, Mr Mackay, Scotty, and WWE hall of famer Rowdy Roddy Piper. When such a character wears a kilt there is often ribald speculation or innuendo about what is underneath. The accompanying sporran is often thought to be amusing too.

The term Scottish mafia is a pejorative term used by English nationalists for a group of Scottish Labour Party politicians and broadcasters who have been seen as having undue influence over the government of the United Kingdom and in particular of England. The term is widely used in the UK press[50][51] and in parliamentary debates.[52][53] Members of this group include: Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Alistair Darling, Charles Falconer, Derry Irvine, Michael Martin and John Reid.

Kelvin MacKenzie

TV pundit and former editor of The Sun, Kelvin MacKenzie - a man with a very Scottish name himself - has courted controversy recently by making a series of attacks on the people of Scotland.

In July 2006, MacKenzie wrote a column for the Sun newspaper referring to Scots as 'Tartan Tosspots' and apparently rejoicing in the fact that Scotland has a lower life expectancy than the rest of the United Kingdom. MacKenzie's column provoked a storm of protest, and was heavily condemned by numerous commentators including Scottish MPs and MSPs.[54]

On 11 October 2007, MacKenzie appeared on the BBC's Question Time TV programme and launched another attack on Scotland. During a debate about tax, MacKenzie claimed that:

Scotland believes not in entrepreneurialism like London and the south east... Scots enjoy spending [money] but they don't enjoy creating it, which is the opposite to down south.[55]

The comments came as part of an attack on Prime Minister Gordon Brown whom MacKenzie said could not be trusted to manage the British economy because he was "a Scot" and a "socialist", and insisting that this was relevant to the debate. Fellow panellist Chuka Umunna, from the think tank Compass and a Labour Party member, called his comments "absolutely disgraceful", and booing and jeering were heard from the Cheltenham studio audience. The BBC received 350 complaints and MacKenzie's comments drew widespread criticism.

In a number of further interviews, MacKenzie went on to say that without England's financial support Scotland would most probably be a third world country.


  • "There are few more impressive sights in the world than a Scotsman on the make" - J.M.Barrie[56]
  • "The noblest prospect which a Scotchman ever sees, is the high road that leads to England." - Samuel Johnson[56]

See also


  1. Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. 2008. "Scotophobia, a morbid dread or dislike of the Scots or things Scottish"
  2. Neal Ascherson (28 June 2006). "Scotophobia". OpenDemocracy.
  3. The Hundered Years War. W.R. Jones (1979). Journal of British Studies
  4. W.Camden, Britain or a Chronical description of the most flourishing kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland. (London 1610), p114-127
  5. Travels to terra incognita: the Scottish Highlands and Hebrides in early modern travellers accounts. c1600-1800. Martin Rackwitz. Waxmann Verlag 2007.p33, p94
  6. Travels to terra incognita: the Scottish Highlands and Hebrides in early modern travellers accounts. c1600-1800. Martin Rackwitz. Waxmann Verlag 2007.p34 Ibid.p123
  7. Travels to terra incognita: the Scottish Highlands and Hebrides in early modern travellers accounts. c1600-1800. Martin Rackwitz. Waxmann Verlag 2007.p33, p94
  8. Travels to Terra Incognita: the Scottish Highlands and Hebrides in Early Modern Travellers' Accounts, c.1600-1800. Martin Rackwitz. Waxmann Verlag 2007.p38, p39
  9. Camden Britain part i, p.127
  10. Template:Harvcolnb (English)
  11. Template:Harvcolnb (Latin)
  12. Travels to terra incognita: the Scottish Highlands and Hebrides in early modern travellers accounts. c1600-1800. Martin Rackwitz. Waxmann Verlag 2007.p40
  13. 13.0 13.1 Macbeth by William Shakespeare. A. R. Braunmuller p9 Cambridge University Press, 1997
  14. Eastward Ho! By Ben Jonson, George Chapman, John Marston, Royal Shakespeare Company
  15. C. Jordan de Colombier, Voyages Historique de l'Europe, 8 vols, (Paris, 1693-1697)
  16. Williamson 'Scots, indians and Empire', pp 50-55'
  17. The Volois Tapestries a barbaric northerner is depicted ibid., p.55
  18. Jean Bodin's Les Six Livres de la Républic (Paris 1576)
  19. Early Modern Representations of the far North. The 1670 Voyage of la Martinére', AVR - Nordic Yearbook of Folklore, vol lviii(Stockholm 2002), pp. 19-42.
  20. Travels to terra incognita: the Scottish Highlands and Hebrides in early modern travellers accounts. c1600-1800. Martin Rackwitz. Waxmann Verlag 2007.
  21. Travels to terra incognita: the Scottish Highlands and Hebrides in early modern travellers accounts. c1600-1800. Martin Rackwitz. Waxmann Verlag 2007.p39
  22. A Taste of Scotlands Historical Fictions of sawney bean and his Family,in E. Cowan and D. Gilford (eds), the Polar twins. 200 edinburgh
  23. Steele. M. (1981) Anti-Jacobite Pamphleteering, 1701 - 1720
  24. Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, xi, 221, 224 cited in Steele. M. (1981) Anti-Jacobite Pamphleteering, 1701 - 1720
  25. Steele. M. (1981) Anti-Jacobite Pamphleteering, 1701 - 1720
  26. Steele. M. (1981)
  27. - 1720
  28. Poetry and Jacobite politics in eighteenth-century Britain and Ireland By Murray Pittock p33
  29. Contextualising Western Martial Arts The case of Thomas Page's The Use of the Highland Broadsword. 2007 By Bethan Jenkins cited in
  30. Jacobite and Anti-Jacobite Medals by Michael Sharp The Royal Stuart Society Paper LXXIV
  31. The myth of the Jacobite clans By Murray Pittock p9
  32. The myth of the Jacobite clans By Murray Pittock p9
  33. The myth of the Jacobite clans p10 By Murray Pittock
  34. The myth of the Jacobite clans p10 By Murray Pittock
  35. Contextualising Western Martial Arts The case of Thomas Page's The Use of the Highland Broadsword. 2007 By Bethan Jenkins cited in
  36. J. B. Nichols, 1833 p.63-p.64 "I meant to display to my own countryman the striking difference of food, priests, soldiers, &c. of two nations" ... "The melancholy and miserable Highlander, browzing on his scanty fare, consisting of a bit of bread and an onion, is intended for one of the many that fled this country after the rebellion in 1745."
  37. The myth of the Jacobite clans By Murray Pittock
  38. The myth of the Jacobite clans By Murray Pittock
  39. Richards, Jeffrey (2002). Imperialism and Music: Britain 1876 to 1953. Manchester University Press. p. 90. ISBN 0719045061.
  40. Groom, Nick (2006). The Union Jack: the Story of the British Flag. Atlantic Books. Appendix. ISBN 1843543362.
  42. "Police probe pipe band race abuse". BBC News. 15 June 2007. Retrieved 25 April 2010.
  43. "Girl, 10, shot in face". Manchester Evening News. 07 August, 2008. Retrieved 28 June 2010.: “A 10 year-old girl was shot in the face with an airgun after being taunted over her Scottish accent.”
  46. "Police probe haggis 'hate crime'". BBC News. 23 May 2001. Retrieved 25 April 2010.
  50. Jack, Ian (15 July 2006). "Border disputes". The Guardian (London: Guardian Newspapers Limited).,,1819741,00.html. Retrieved 2006-10-02.
  51. Johnson, Boris (31 August 2006). "There's nothing national about the National Health". The Daily Telegraph (London: Telegraph Group Limted). Retrieved 2006-10-02.
  52. Template:Cite hansard
  53. Template:Cite hansard
  54. "Sun ed and MacKenzie clash in "tartan tosspots"". Press Gazette. 10 July 2006. Retrieved 2007-09-12.
  55. "MacKenzie attack draws Scots fire". BBC News. 12 October 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-17.
  56. 56.0 56.1 T. Christopher Smout (2005). Anglo-Scottish Relations, from 1603 to 1900. Oxford University Press. pp. 25. ISBN 0197263305.


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