Dance If Ye Can: A Dictionary of Scottish Battles
Small nations often have to accept terms dictated upon them by more powerful neighbours. They have to adapt to survive and use political pragmatism as a tool to escape the consequences of their size; bowing to the dragon’s will rather than chancing its wrath. There are some small nations who do not accept their role in life, but react to insult with insult and aggression with retaliation. It is almost inevitable that warfare punctuates their history. Scotland is one of these nations.
Even if left alone, the Scots would probably have developed into a contumacious lot. Living in a small country with a generally harsh environment and a climate that ranges from impossible at worst to temporarily pleasant at best, the Scots were always going to have a struggle to survive, but when fate added neighbours who were larger, more powerful and often aggressive, what developed was arguably one of the most bloody-minded, stubborn peoples on earth.
Scotland is bounded on three sides by the sea and has a single ninety-odd mile long land border with England. She boasts a population of just over five million people; some of the most diverse landscapes anywhere, world-class universities and an international outlook. A land of cool winters and damp summers, Scottish agriculture is nevertheless a world leader while her fishermen brave some of the world’s most unpredictable seas. Scotland has produced a plethora of philosophers, a sheaf of innovative scientists, an array of explorers, engineers by the thousand and soldiers by the battalion. There is a measure of pride in her daughters and sons, but scarce understanding of her history; an acceptance of the inevitability of hardships, but a desire to help the less fortunate. The Scots are a unique people whose courage was whetted in the daily grind of wrestling a living from achingly poor soil, but illustrated by the conduct of Scotsmen on a hundred battlefields.