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The Gaelic World and the Early Stewart Court
Mìorun Mòr nan Gall, ‘The Great Ill-Will of the Lowlander’? Lowland Perceptions of the Highlands, Medieval and Modern (2007)
It has become something of a commonplace to assert that the mid- to late fourteenth century saw the ‘emergence of the Highlands’ in the sense of an increased awareness within Scotland of the division of the kingdom into distinct Highland and Lowland zones which were differentiated from each other in terms of geography, social structure, lifestyle and, above all, language. One of the most important (and certainly the most-quoted) pieces of evidence for this development is the description of Scotland provided by the historian John of Fordun, whose Chronicle can be dated to the mid-1380s.1 Fordun’s comments have been taken as one of the earliest indications of an increasingly hostile attitude on the part of the Lowland Scot toward the Gael; one of the significant milestones on a path leading toward entrenched cultural antagonism and, eventually, attempts at the systematic persecution of Gaelic society and language.