Readers Letters
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Letter 9

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Findlay Hickey wrote:

It is a beautiful web-site and I am impressed by the work that you have done. However, the English are not an island race, you occupy the southern half of the largest island of an archipelago. This is not to deny that the Norman conquest had a profound effect on Scotland, Wales and Ireland, for it did, but it was not a conquest of "Britain". Your tone in you introduction is somewhat pompous. If anything, the Norman conquest of Engalnd did not teach that country to prevent it happening again, merely gave your countrymen a taste for foreign conquest that has made England resented and hated the world over.

As for a Scot's feelings towards his southern neighbours, they would be much improved if those neighbours were a little less self-righteous and more historically accurate.

Findlay Hickey

Dear Findlay,

Thank you for your comments on my site,

I am not sure how to reply to your your criticism when you use the word "hate" to describe the worlds feelings towards the English. Are the English not an Island race ? are not the Welsh and the Scottish people island races ? Is it the English or the British that are hated ? It is not together that we make up the British Isles and people? I have thought long and hard about when to use Britain instead of England to avoid controversy. I did not want to be accused of speaking for others because I would have received due notification of the fact. The history of England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Normandy and most of Europe are inextricably linked. I have tried to explain my feelings and reasoning "as an Englishman" in the epilogue. My site stops at 1100 AD and therefore does not go into the development of Britain after this date. I know that great chunks of English history are missing from my account, let alone Scottish or any other, but I simply do not have the knowledge or time and web space to go deeply into other peoples history. This is the problem of working alone. The glossary does include the Scottish kings during this period.

You or I cannot be held responsible for our past. The history of our fathers cannot be altered. The only thing we can do is learn from it.

When I receive criticism such as yours, I usually ask them if they would be prepared to write an article to redress the alleged in-balance. If you are prepared to write an article of a few thousand words telling your history and point of view during this period, I am prepared to read it and possibly include it in my site.

Is it possible that you have also highlighted a possible topic for a web site ? how about attempting it yourself ? I would be very interested in reading it.

Best wishes,

Glen Crack.

Findlay Hickey wrote:

Dear Glen,

Your points are fair and well made. My reaction was indicative of an irritation which many Scots (and others) feel towards a peceived confusion in the eyes of many English historians. In many ways, I would prefer English writers and historians to be more openly Anglocentric in their writings. All our histories are inextricably linked of that there is no doubt. However, in spite of a Teutonising tendency in the eighteenth century, the Scots are not Anglo-Saxons and will always have a different pespective.

Quite possibly the aspect of the Norman conquest that had the most profound effect on Scottish history was the marriage of Malcolm Canmore to St Margaret as the Saxon nobility fled England. This was the beginning of the end for the Celtic Tanist sytem in Scotland and, probably more importantly, the end of the Gaelic language in religion (Margaret imposed the Latin Mass).

I am flattered by your offer to write something substantive on this subject. Time permitting, perhaps I will. However, the best, most balanced and thoroughly researched work to cover the Scottish dimension to England's conquest was published earlier this year by Ferguson. He is a historian with a lifetime of knowledge and reflection to impart, I am an enthusiastic layman.

By the way, one interesting artefact of this period is possibly the Fairy Flag of the McLeods. In spite of the romance of otherworld origins, it is probably the remains of the banner of Harad Hardradda. He was never defeated when he followed it into battle, but the story goes that at Stamford Bridge the Norwegians didn't manage to get it off the ships. The flag is made of Middle Eastern silk which would be quite likely for a warrior who had spent much time fighting for Constantinople. A link the breadth of Europe shows how interlinked we all are.

All the best,

Findlay Hickey

Dear Findlay,

Think about my offer.

You write well. You are only the third person I have asked out of hundreds of emails I have received to write an article on their subject. History has shown that when it comes down to it, we may have our differences, but we still have a damn more in common than most. We - as the British - will fight till the end.

If you change your mind- you know where to reach me.


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copyright Glen Ray Crack - Battle - East Sussex - United Kingdom
Submitted 10th January 1998
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