Friday, January 8, 2016

The Scots, Tartan & Jacob's Pillow

The Scots, Tartan & Jacob’s Pillow

My old professor, the late Rev professor Dr Francis Nigel Lee, was a historian (among other things), He left me, as a Scot, wondering when occasionally during a lecture he would, e.g., connect Scottish tartan with Joseph’s coat of many colours (Genesis 37:3), the standing stones of Callanish and the stones of other places in Scotland with Abraham and his altars (Genesis 12:7), particularly with the Israelites crossing the Jordan River (Joshua 4:1-9) and the connection of the Scots to the Scyt-ians (Scythians, Colossians 3:11). Sure, the connections at first may seem a tad tenuous, and I know other historians, such as perhaps John Prebble and Neil Oliver, probably chuckle at the mere suggestion of a connection between Scotland and these Biblical things. Dr Lee simply may have been trying to incite me to further study by these mild assertions. On a recent trip to Scotland when visiting the Clava Stones near Inverness this came to mind.

Yes, some historians may laugh at any Biblical connection and the historicity of the preamble to The Declaration of Arbroath of 1320, (a document sent by the Scots to the Pope), especially the following words:  Most Holy Father and Lord, we know and from the chronicles and books of the ancients we find that among other famous nations our own, the Scots, has been graced with widespread renown. They journeyed from Greater Scythia by way of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Pillars of Hercules, and dwelt for a long course of time in Spain among the most savage tribes, but nowhere could they be subdued by any race, however barbarous. Thence they came, twelve hundred years after the people of Israel crossed the Red Sea, to their home in the west where they still live today.’ Think about it, would the Scots lie to the Pope when seeking to gain his favour and blessing? Surely they believed what they had written to be truth! We see mention of Scythians.

I wrote most of this in an email to an author friend who quickly responded with some thoughts. Wrote Billy Scobie (whose pen name is Alexander Tait),
‘Just thinking out loud here – My old mentor Jamie Scarlett believed that tartan had always been an art-form of the Celtic peoples. It would appear that the Celts originated in an area of what is now south-east of Russia, around the Caspian Sea. They migrated westwards until they finally reached Ireland, Wales, Cornwall and, of course, Scotland. Their migration over the centuries can be traced in the place names beginning with GAL... Galatea, Galicia, Gallipoli, Galada, Gaul, Galway, Galloway... the Gaelic tongues. The Greek historian Diodorus Siculus, writing in 50 BC, describes the Celts as wearing tartan “striped or chequered in design, with the separate checks close together and in various colours.” Galilee is described in the Bible as “Galilee of the Gentiles”. Some believe that the original Galileans were Celtic rather than Semitic. Was tartan part of the Celtic heritage of Galilee? Did Jesus wear tartan? It’s not at all as far-fetched as it might at first sound.”
I may never get around to finishing my ‘A Stone From The Throne’ novel, (which refers to the stone that was under the British coronation throne), but now it seems very feasible to me that in their travels the Irish/Scots brought with them the Stone of Destiny’ or Stone of Scone (another stone! i.e., Jacob’s Pillow, Genesis 28:10-22).


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