Kilt was invented by an Englishman, claims Jeremy Paxman, to Scots anger

Eviction of farmers and the kilt’s invention are ‘myths’, says broadcaster

Jeremy Paxman, the Newsnight inquisitor, has incurred the wrath of Scottish nationalists by insisting the kilt was invented by an Englishman, and claiming there is “a head of steam in Scotland for hating the English”. Speaking on Radio 4’s Saturday Live yesterday, Paxman, 64, also said that the Highland clearances, which Scottish nationalists often link to brutal English repression, have been the subject of myth-making.

In a sign that his remarks might not be popular north of the border – where he occasionally enjoys a spot of fly fishing – a spokesman for the Yes Scotland independence campaign immediately dismissed Paxman’s comments about hatred of the English as “mad as ever”.

Describing how he liked the inclusiveness of ‘Britishness’, Paxman said: “Increasingly, since there is now such a head of steam in Scotland for hating the English, I describe myself as English, although I am in fact one quarter Scottish.

“It’s interesting, isn’t it, that in this union of supposed equals, only one side gets to vote on whether the union continues.”

Challenged by Saturday Live presenter Aasmah Mir, the notoriously combative Paxman did backtrack slightly, saying he did not equate the case for Scottish independence with hatred of Englishness: “Hate is overstating it, and I apologise. But it is to do with a detestation of being ruled from London.”

Bonnie Prince Charlie Bonnie Prince Charlie Moments later, however, Paxman, the author of The English, returned to the offensive, saying: “I would absolutely love to write a book on the Scots. We might start tackling some of the great sustaining Scottish myths, like the kilt, which was actually invented by an Englishman as far as I can tell. And the Highland clearances ….”

Nor did his BBC paymasters escape unscathed. Paxman told Saturday Live listeners that the typical Newsnight hospitality room “tends to be a disgusting basement with stained carpets, where very occasionally a glass of Moldovan riesling may be dispensed to some unfortunate guest. And there is a strictly rationed limit of about four bottles of whatever beer is cheapest at Costco”.

Paxman did not develop his point about the clearances of the 18th and 19th centuries, when poor Highland farmers were evicted from their lands, but some historians have claimed clan leaders who backed Bonnie Prince Charlie were as responsible as English-supporting landowners.

It was also unclear whether Paxman, the quizmaster for University Challenge, was right to say the kilt was invented by an Englishman. Since the 18th century it has been claimed that the philabeg, the small kilt that is now regarded as traditional, was invented by Thomas Rawlinson, a Lancashire Quaker, to be worn by workers in his Highlands iron smelting factory.

But this has been challenged by researchers who have found illustrations showing such kilts being worn long before Rawlinson arrived in Scotland in the 1720s.

This is not the first time Paxman has outraged Scottish patriotic sensibilities. Writing about Robert Burns in an introduction to the 11th edition of the Chambers Dictionary in 2008, he said: “I’m afraid I find the Scottish national poet no more than a king of sentimental doggerel.”

He was not available at the time to answer the ensuing criticism, because he was fly fishing in the Scottish Highlands.

In a statement, the Yes Scotland campaign said: “We’d be very interested to read a book on the Scots by Mr Paxman. He would realise very quickly that he is mistaken in his assertion that there is a ‘head of steam for hating the English’. We’re fortunate to have lead volunteers and key people who are English born. The case for independence is made in many accents.”

Arts and Entertainment
Matthew Healy of The 1975 performing on the Pyramid Stage at the Glastonbury Festival, at Worthy Farm in Somerset

music
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe Withnail and I creator, has a new theory about killer's identity
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
tvDick Clement and Ian La Frenais are back for the first time in a decade
Arts and Entertainment
The Clangers: 1969-1974
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Rocky road: Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino play an estranged husband and wife in 'San Andreas'
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Nicole Kidman plays Grace Kelly in the film, which was criticised by Monaco’s royal family

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emilia Clarke could have been Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey but passed it up because of the nude scenes

film
Arts and Entertainment
A$AP Rocky and Rita Ora pictured together in 2012

music
Arts and Entertainment
A case for Mulder and Scully? David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in ‘The X-Files’

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Impressions of the Creative Community Courtyard within d3. The development is designed to 'inspire emerging designers and artists, and attract visitors'

architecture
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010

GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride

Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan

FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head

Arts and Entertainment
Måns Zelmerlöw performing

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Norton was back in the commentating seat for Eurovision 2015

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May on stage

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

    Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

    Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
    Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
    Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

    The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

    Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
    The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

    The future of songwriting

    How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
    William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

    Recognition at last

    Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
    Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

    Beating obesity

    The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
    9 best women's festival waterproofs

    Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

    These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific
    In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

    In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

    Dame Colette Bowe - interview