Letter: Scotland for ever

Sir: What exactly is Ian Jack's point about "long-established countries such as England, France and Spain" in his article on the new Museum of Scotland (21 November)? His visit should have taught him that the country of his birth was among the first to assume some of the characteristics by which we define nation states. Scottish unity predates the Declaration of Arbroath of 1320, which puts it long before France (Louis XI's conquest of Burgundy in 1477) or Spain (the union of Aragon and Castile in 1479). Argument about the precedence of England or Scotland in this respect would be fatuous.

It won't do to refer to Scotland as "a country which not so long ago was thought of as a region of the United Kingdom"'. Thought of by whom? Few Scots have ever seen their native land in such a light. To talk about regions is to betray an Anglocentric conception of the Union, whose most fervent Scottish supporters, certainly from Sir Walter Scott onwards, have characteristically been committed with equal zeal to the defence of Scottish institutions, Scottish traditions, and Scottish nationhood.


St Andrews,