Battles of Invernhaven And Perth – 1300s
That said, let me try and redeem myself for picking on Scott. We will say we can assume he had been attempting to be as accurate as possible about the history of the battle in his story. Even then, however, we must bear an important fact in mind: Scott was writing 400 years after the event had taken place! Of course, truth be told, if he had come on the scene a few centuries earlier, he would likely still have had only fragmentary documentation from which to derive his accounts and reflections. Poor preservation, the changing of monarchies and their need to influence history, shifts from home to foreign rule (events, incidentally, often leading to purposeful omissions by the new regimes), variations in language and what was lost in translation, and so on had already left a mark on the historical records. If there are gaps to be filled, well, there’s nothing better than the stuff of “educated” imagination. The passage of 400 years is more than enough time to dilute fact with fiction in any case, but, if Scott studied and wrote about it, it must be accurate, right? Thus begins a pattern of holding to the “facts” spawned by a cherished national figure and, coupled with the age-old tradition of handing down and embellishing stories, a trend toward the diversion and elaboration of details.
Therefore, we begin with an already romanticized account as a launching point. Then, with a twist here, a tweak there, and a bit of assumption thrown in – just for taste – we find ourselves confronted with a good many variations on a theme as time goes by. Some have at least small overlaps, possibly pointing toward a semblance of “truth,” but this is the greatest problem: which version is true or, at least, has the most truth to it (if indeed any do)? Which has the proof to back it up? As already mentioned, the
written records Scott studied were fragmentary and previously “interpreted.” History, however, seems discontent to remain in the realm of supposition and guesswork. In fact, if we look hard enough and aren’t satisfied with what lies on the surface, it appears to always find a way to reveal itself. When we reexamine our story, we soon see there actually is substantial evidence indicating that the part of our story we’ve looked at so far might not have had such an ending after all.
Davidsons Exonerated: A New Look at the North Inch
With new technologies available and a rekindled interest in the past, a number of folks looking to move beyond hearsay and assumption have done some fresh exploring to see where we came from and where we might be headed. None have had more to do with this than the National Trust for Scotland (hereafter NTS) and its affiliate members and institutions. As a result of their continued efforts, authors and scholars have a basis from which to write, debate, and to offer more accurate (or as close as can be) accounts and interpretations of Scotland’s past. Some of these have concerned Davidson history and, interestingly enough, at least one unique outlook on the Battle of the North Inch. The Clan Davidson Association, U.K. (hereafter CDA – UK) has added to the efforts and has been influential in gathering data to contribute to research efforts and in disseminating the outcomes5.
Problem is, while some of the resultant findings seem to simply re-phrase old themes, a few introduce different or novel ideas that have led to as many new questions as answers. What we will need to do, then, is to re-examine the pieces of the North Inch puzzle. However, let’s do so by removing ourselves from their midst and looking at them as a whole. This will help us to have a clearer idea of how the picture fits together. Of course, we’ll need to put certain individual pieces under the magnifying glass, and even rewind and fast-forward through time a bit here and there to really see their shapes, but the focus will be on the forest, not the trees. If we use these tactics, and a bit of “Holmesian” deduction, we immediately begin to see distinctive patterns, overlaps or gaps in timelines, and other aspects of history that suddenly seem to make little sense. With these out of our way, what emerges seems to be a clearer picture of our Clan and its place in the North Inch battle.