Since the time of Sir Walter Scott, tartan, kilts and highland bagpipes have come to represent the image of Scotland to the world. The ‘tartanization’ of Scottish popular culture seems here to stay. In our opinion, there is nothing wrong with the kind of Scottish image presented at highland games. However, it is not the whole story of Scotland or Scottish heritage.
Prior to 1822, most lowland Scots thought of highlanders as aboriginal savages, and did not even consider them to be fellow countrymen — often referring to highlanders as ‘Irish.’ At an earlier time, the lowland Scots did not consider Scottish borderers to be fellow countrymen, either. An Act of 1587, c. 96, actually expelled borderers from the inland counties of Scotland, unless they could find security for their quiet deportment. The borderers reciprocated this feeling of derision. Since the experience of the borderers with their Kings was more frequently as avenging judge than as protecting sovereign, the boderers often referred to the Scottish monarchs as ‘Kings of Fife and Lothian’ — provinces the borderers were not legally entitled to inhabit.
This page concerns border Scots, who, as stated above, were not typical ‘lowlanders.’ In fact, the borderers were really from the Southern Uplands, which lie below the central lowland belt. Until the early seventeenth century, they maintained a very distinctive society of their own.
Within the bounds of Annandale,
The gentle Johnstones ride;
They have been there a thousand years,
A thousand more they’ll bide.
– – – Old Ballad