Allan Massie

Painting the Globe Tartan

To the Ends of the Earth: Scotland’s Global Diaspora, 1750–2010


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During an early eighteenth-century war between Russia and the Ottoman Empire, the generals of the two armies came together to negotiate a truce. ‘Aye, aye, Sandy,’ said the Turkish one, ‘we’re a gey lang way frae the back o’ Bennachie’ – for the two men had been brought up on neighbouring farms in Aberdeenshire. The tale may be apocryphal, but is quite likely true, and I like to think they indulged in reminiscences of their childhood, speaking the broad Aberdeenshire Doric.

Scots have a deep, if often sentimental, attachment to their homeland, often expressed in – sometimes mawkish – song. They celebrate St Andrew’s Night and Burns Night wherever they find themselves in the world.

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