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New Britain, new Scotland, new history

Finlay, Richard J. (2001) New Britain, new Scotland, new history. Journal of Contemporary History, 36 (2). pp. 383-393. ISSN 0022-0094

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Abstract

David Hume's comment that 'this is the historical age and this is the historical nation' would appear to have as much resonance now as it did in the eighteenth century. The impact of devolution in Scotland has made Scottish history seem more relevant to its people. The nation, in keeping with its rediscovery of its political self, has embarked on a process of rediscovering its past. TV series, popular history magazines, serializations in newspapers and an upsurge in student numbers at the universities all testify to the growth of interest. Whereas Scottish history was a fringe subject north of the border 25 years ago and students were advised to stay clear of it and do 'real history' instead, there are now more historians of Scotland in Scottish universities than at any other time. Furthermore, there appears to be a consensus that the quality of Scottish history writing is at its best since the days of the Enlightenment.1 The Scots, it would appear, have recovered their long lost ability to blow their own trumpet.