A ten-part BBC TV series on Scottish history has become embroiled in controversy, with a second senior Scottish historian publicly criticising the programme.
Professor Allan Macinnes announced earlier this week that he was resigning from the advisory board of A History of Scotland after its first meeting in November.
“I thought the whole production was dreadful,” he said.
“The first provisional script I got was so Anglo-centric I couldn't believe it. It was written on the basis that Scotland was a divided country until the Union [with England] came along and civilised it. I felt it was just nonsense.”
Instead, Professor Macinnes argues that Scottish politicians who negotiated the Treaty of Union were not "a parcel of rogues bought for English gold," but politically inept negotiators.
A History of Scotland's advisory board, which includes leading historians, agencies such as Historic Scotland and a history teachers' representative, meets for a second time later this week.
However, last week University of Edinburgh Professor Tom Devine, who is regarded as one of Scotland's top historians, made it known that he had turned down the offer of a place on the board. While explaining that he “warmly welcomed” the programme, he complained of an “old-fashioned” approach to Scottish history and the choice of an archaeologist Neil Oliver as the presenter.
The series is being referred to as the foundation of a “multi-platform” project from BBC Scotland, known as 'Scotland's History.'
It includes linked live concerts from historic locations, and radio and website programming with the intention of “bringing the country's history to life.”
However, Mr Macinnes criticised the first script as “very traditionalist”, and was full of monarchical references. “Everything was written from the point of view of England and Scotland, as if Scotland didn't have any relations with any other country.
Mr Macinnes, who is a professor of early modern history at Strathclyde University, is also a published author and expert on the period up to and including the Union of the Crowns.
He listed as a further reason for his resignation the programme makers' expectation that he give his time for free. “They seem to regard working for the BBC as an unpaid honour.”
He conceded, however, that the programme's second script might have changed, but complained about the persistence of an “awful phrase: 'Scotland was a divided nation.'"
He explained that, “At the time, England was divided, France was divided, Germany didn't even exist. I would like to see it put Scotland in its wider European context. You don't need to look at England all the time.”
BBC Scotland responded by stating: “The whole point of the advisory group is to look at the bigger picture, and we have been very much working with them and taking on board their suggestions.”
They added: “No scripts as such have been issued. Early drafts are always open to discussion and differing interpretations.”
Another leading Scottish historian, Dr Jenny Wormald - also a University of Edinburgh professor - remains on the panel. She said: “I had my own worries: for example, I didn't want too much made of Robert the Bruce, because I wanted Scottish history to be made of more than our great heroes. I didn't win on that one.”
A History of Scotland is due to air next November with the first five parts ending with an insight into the Act of Union.