Saturday, 11 August 2012
The famous Lubeck Letter was issued by William Wallace and Andrew Moray as "Guardians of Scotland" after the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297. I'm delighted to say that it's now on display at Holyrood until 8th Sep.
The Lubeck letter is the only surviving document issued by Wallace, during his fight for Scottish independence in the 13th Century.
It was written in Latin after Wallace's victory over English forces at the Battle of Stirling Bridge, to inform German trading partners that Scottish ports were open for business again.
In my opinion this exhibition is of tremendous importance to all Scottish People of North German (and also Dutch) origin and ancestry. This letter is the starting point for all trade, exchange of ideas and movement of people from the North German coast and The Netherlands to Scotland which still continues right up to our present day. Traditionally, German immigrants to Scotland are usually associated with Unionism and notions of Britishness due to the German roots of the ruling British royal family and the House of Hanover. Not to mention the Hessians who fought for King George against Scottish Jacobites. The same can be said for Dutch immigrants to Scotland and their relationship to William of Orange. However, this letter is an ancient example of just how far back the links between Scotland and North European Hanseatic towns and cities go.
I hope this letter will give us the opportunity to further explore our links and discover more about our many cultural similarities. Not just a liking for beer and fish. But things like the similarities between the Lowland Scots language and the Low German dialect spoken in Lower Saxony. The Frisian dialect spoken in North Netherlands is also related to Scots. There is also the influence of the early Scottish Church on Germany known as the Schottenkloster. Not to mention the Scottish Presbyterian community which settled in The Netherlands around the time of the War of the Three Kingdoms and the Restoration. There is also the many Dutch Gable style buildings which can be found in many Scottish costal towns even today. This building style was introduced to Scotland by Hanseatic merchants and traders who came from the North Sea and Baltic Coasts.
On a related note, later in the year Inverclyde Community Development Trust will restore and re-open the old Dutch Gable House in Greenock as a community space. This is another fascinating fragment of our forgotten local history which is now being rediscovered and made available to the public. Let's also hope that one day we can also have the Greenock Sugar Sheds turned into a community space.This building was the workplace for many German immigrants who came to Scotland in the mid 19th Century. My own forefathers worked there, it's funny to think it all started with Wallace's Lubeck Letter.