Scottish Gypsies/Travellers: Background information when reading Beneath the Abbey Wall

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Beneath the Abbey Wall

by A. D. Scott

Beneath the Abbey Wall by A. D. Scott X
Beneath the Abbey Wall by A. D. Scott
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Paperback:
    Nov 2012, 352 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Karen Rigby
Buy This Book

About this Book

Scottish Gypsies/Travellers

This article relates to Beneath the Abbey Wall

Print Review

One of the plot details in Beneath the Abbey Wall involves a family of Travellers whose histories twine with the murder victim's – Jimmy McPhee, and his mother Jenny McPhee, a highly regarded storyteller.

Scottish Travellers at the famous Aikey Brae Fair, Aberdeenshire, c.1906In Scotland, the Traveller population is referred to by the government as Scottish Gypsies/Travellers (distinct from Irish Travellers), though the names members use to refer to themselves varies by region. Travellers is more common in the Highlands, while Gypsies is used in the Lowlands and Border areas, with some regarding Gypsies as derogatory, preferring Romas instead. (For more on the Roma people in Britain, view the Beyond the Book for An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear.) Scotland also includes New Travellers, who are not born Travellers but who follow a similar nomadic lifestyle, though often for more political reasons (such as adopting a more green lifestyle), and Scottish Showmen (a business/cultural group of fairground families and travelling show people centered in Glasgow's East End who do not identify as Gypsies/Travellers).

Now recognized as a minority ethnic community, Gypsy/Traveller origins are not well known. They may include pre-Celtic, Celtic, or Roman roots. 15th century records indicate the presence of Romani people, many of whom blended with Scottish natives. Gypsies/Travellers may also include descendants of Gaels who were removed from their homeland during the Highland Clearances of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, which are sometimes attributed to agricultural revolution, but also, more darkly, to class conflict as well as prejudice.

Contrary to misperception, Gypsies/Travellers do not always live on the road – many contemporary families reside in homes during the winters or for longer periods. In 2011, the BBC featured a documentary series, Travellers, which follows the lives of two Scottish Traveller families in a variety of settings both urban and rural.


In 2008, Essie Stewart, granddaughter of gaelic storyteller Ailidh Dall Stewart (1882-1968) - pronounced Ay-lee Dow - patriarch of the Stewarts of Remarstaig Traveller family, presented stories at the Ullapool Book Festival. Visit the am baile Highland History & Culture archive to listen. More about Essie is included in the 1996 book The Summer Walkers by Timothy Neat.

Photograph from William Rennie, Stuartfield

Filed under Places, Cultures & Identities

Article by Karen Rigby

This article relates to Beneath the Abbey Wall. It first ran in the January 9, 2013 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Lost Apothecary
    The Lost Apothecary
    by Sarah Penner
    Sarah Penner's debut novel The Lost Apothecary was rated 4 or 5 stars by 22 of our 23 First ...
  • Book Jacket: The Spymaster of Baghdad
    The Spymaster of Baghdad
    by Margaret Coker
    For the last 17 years, the country of Iraq has known almost constant violence and political upheaval...
  • Book Jacket: Hades, Argentina
    Hades, Argentina
    by Daniel Loedel
    Daniel Loedel's debut novel, Hades, Argentina, opens in 1986 when we meet Tomás Orillo, a young...
  • Book Jacket: Dark Horses
    Dark Horses
    by Susan Mihalic
    Dark Horses is a shocking, heart-pounding debut; it's both a coming-of-age novel and an unflinching ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Smalltime
    by Russell Shorto

    Family secrets emerge as a best-selling author dives into the history of the mob in small-town America.

    Reader Reviews
  • Book Jacket

    The Northern Reach
    by W.S. Winslow

    What is the weight of the stories we choose to tell...and the burdens of those we hide?

    Reader Reviews
Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Narrowboat Summer
by Anne Youngson
From the author of Meet Me at the Museum, a charming novel of second chances.
Win This Book!
Win Band of Sisters

Band of Sisters
by Lauren Willig

"A crackling portrayal of everyday American heroines…A triumph."
— Fiona Davis

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

W T's Life T's H

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.