Highlandism : its value to Scotland and how a queen and two aristocratic women promoted the phenomenon in the Victorian age

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

In 1859 a queen, a duchess and a clan chief’s daughter came together in Scotland for the inauguration of a pumping station. Piping water into Glasgow from distant Highland hills was an “engineering marvel.” The monarch opened the Loch Katrine Waterworks, a duke’s kilted army gave the royal salute - and city and countryside were linked. Victorian engineering skills mixed with tartan nostalgia. In these ‘Rob Roy’ haunts a progressive age beckoned, but it was one that took with it an invented past…This thesis will examine ‘Highlandism’, a phenomenon viewed with suspicion because it is a product of the British Empire, the British army, royalty and aristocracy. It will examine its authenticity, analyse its worth and detail the contribution made by three women to this male driven trend. Queen Victoria was a patron, the Duchess of Athole an enabler, and Miss MacGregor an intellect behind this plaid and piping craze.This work will show that Highlandism’s intellectual foundations are deeper than thought and that royal and aristocratic roles in its development are more positive than imagined. ‘Tartan and shortbread’ traditions are accused of impeding cultural and political change. Yet Highlandism has stimulated trade and tourism. It has encouraged a global piping tradition,boosted the Gaelic movement and engendered worldwide emotional support for Scotland. With the “tartan monster” possibly being viewed more kindly, perhaps the “haggis” can sit more comfortably with the “culture”.
Date of Award1 Jul 2015
LanguageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SupervisorRichard Finlay (Supervisor) & Allan MacInnes (Supervisor)

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