EDINBURGH Castle has a claim to be the most attacked place in Britain, having been subjected to at least 26 sieges from the 11th century onwards. It has been an arsenal, a royal residence, a treasury, a mint, and a prison.

Now a tourist attraction, hosting the Honours of Scotland, and one of the most visited sites in Scotland, it seems that the titling of its cafe as the “Redcoat” lacks understanding of how that term is not as universally well-thought-of as Historic Environment Scotland (HES) may like.

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The British Empire, which at its zenith in 1922 covered 20% of the globe, didn’t get there by being good guys and Nicey Nicey. The Redcoats removed the heads of whatever government style in place, then inserted the British administration systems and Christianity by the front door, whilst extracting product and resources out of the back door.

A recent YouGov survey indicates that only 40% of those polled thought “The Redcoats” were a well-thought-of part of British history.

I doubt if the pollsters contacted any of the Indian nation, or the Mau Mau in Kenya, or people of Eire or the Native Americans or the independent populace of the United States of America, who have the deep pockets that HES would like to drain a little. The emergence of China brings into question “gunboat diplomacy” during the Boxer rebellion.

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The Redcoat history is part of British history which we cannot avoid or deny, so should we use it as the title of a food outlet in the most visited attraction in Scotland?

Surely there could be a less emotive title – suggestions to Historic Environment Scotland.

Perhaps “Rocky” as a whimsical alternative.

Alistair Ballantyne

WHEN the Edinburgh Castle café/function room renaming began in 1992, I believed it was a misjudgement to apply the name “Jacobite”; I thought it demeaning of brave people killed in battle or executed afterwards for supporting a cause no less noble than that of Culloden’s victors. Additionally, I could see the word “bite” in “Jacobite”, and I presumed the people of business would too, possibly enjoying the pun.

As to “Redcoat”, yes, of course government military uniform was worn by the government military. The image survives sometimes comfortably within Gaelic culture too, such as in a song which translates as “I like you!”, where a woman awaits her lover who had left “on King George’s ship” wearing his “red coat” (còta dearg).

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I think, though, the issue is a different one from simply presenting historical evidence.

In the past, Scotland decided to not teach generations of schoolchildren (me included) knowledge of our own history and taught us other people’s history instead. And not everyone in adulthood focuses on learning history, so inevitably many of us have in its place something on a spectrum between feelings, popular history, and knowledge. So we have the paradox of a well-educated, sophisticated, and talented community with, frequently, a frailty when it comes to its own history. Good old Scottish Office!

But we do have a community accustomed to being on the wrong end of national insult, from placing nuclear warheads near Glasgow to the BBC’s non-televising of national sporting events, meaning insult is normalised, resentment at insult commonplace. What here is remarkable is the flare-up this perceived insult has detonated.

Regarding celebration of the Redcoats – well, so long as we are aware that in addition to the government triumph of Culloden come the other obscenities Redcoats were sent out to undertake, of military conquest and Empire, of the colonialising interventions and killings in Ireland, impoverishment of India, and so on. These are uncomfortable. But if that’s the celebration, then there we go. That’s 2020s Scotland. Good old Redcoats!

READ MORE: Scots call for Edinburgh Castle cafe name change amid anger

However, a strong perception clearly exists in Scotland that “the Redcoat” creates an image of an ugly and murderous episode; and one that many consider to have diminished and humiliated the country.

Nor is that image unreasonable, because that is the one we best know. Culloden was not simply a battle, because its aftermath and reprisals were appalling and Gaelic culture all but destroyed. In Scotland, the image of “the Redcoat” remains inseparable from that. This is the bit Historic Environment Scotland ignored in 1992 and again in 2024. I do think they are now in a “read the room” situation. I hope they avoid the temptation of issuing a history lesson, and simply re-brand.

Professor Aonghus MacKechnie

GRAEME McCormick’s proposal for a ground-owned basis for charging council tax (Letters, Feb 13) sounds interesting – as anything which might save me money and solve council finance problems would. If a trial was initiated it would need to cover both mainly urban and mainly rural council areas and it would probably be best being tapered in over several years to avoid sudden individual anomalies. Perhaps sample council areas could arrange a small-scale paper exercise to carry out a feasibility study at this stage.

R Millar