AT various YES rallies this year there has been considerable interest in one particular stall.

The stall, organised by the Stennis Historical Society of Edinburgh, has been showing, and making available, a map created by SHS member Daibhidh Kennedy that shows the British Army occupation of Scotland from 1746-53, which has featured in The National before.

Fierce opposition to the Union was written out of history

There are over 440 different locales for these variously sized garrisons, based on data extracted by Daibhidh as part of a project to transcribe the hand-written co-document known as the Cantonment Registers of the British Army in Scotland.

There appears to be only one extant copy of this, currently in the War Museum Library in Edinburgh Castle. The transcription of this document has been a considerable task and the SHS, formed after a course of Radical Scottish History classes at the Edinburgh YES Hub last winter, have done a grand job.

The reality that virtually all of Scotland was under British Army occupation for almost a decade after Culloden is beginning to be addressed by historians and runs counter to the establishment idea that the Jacobites packed up for good after Culloden. The reality was that, certainly till the early 1750s many Scots, particularly in the Highlands, were ready to go to battle again.

And this may well have happened had word come from the Bonnie Prince, or his father. In truth the Jacobite cause was an ongoing and serious threat to the British State and its Hanoverian royals till the early 1760s at least, and they knew it.

Although the Cantonment Registers have never been published to date, there are excerpts available at the Stennis Historical Society website. However, there are situation reports from officers serving in the Highlands in the period up to the 1750s that have seen the light of day.

Not that you would notice. Many of these show an attitude towards the natives that is blatantly racist, and the only rational conclusion is that Scotland, as a whole, was under British Army occupation until well into the 1750s. The Jacobite cause was very much alive long after Culloden.

And that struggle was defined here in Scotland by resistance to the very idea of the Union.

Some Jacobite swords from the ’15, probably made in the Netherlands, were inscribed “Prosperity to Schotland and No Union”, and the Earl of Mar who led that “Rising” made it very clear that the wish to disband the Union was central to the Jacobite cause.

Fierce opposition to the Union was written out of history

The riots that had taken place across Scotland eight years earlier had made it clear that the majority of Scots were against any further unification with England. The Union of the Crowns in 1603 had hardly been of benefit to Scotland at any level and the people were well aware of that.

This aspect of Scottish Jacobitism has been eradicated from history in a clear example of the old cliché that the winners write the history.

However, losers in political and military struggles don’t stop talking to each other and stories survived down through the centuries and it was actually following up on stories of “lads in the heather”, Jacobites who didn’t surrender but moved deep into the Highlands and used the traditional skills associated with inter-clan cattle raiding to survive, that led me to the Cantonment Registers in the first place.

Now the suppression of truth in history is nothing new and the role of those Scots who saw, and still see, their own advantage in supporting the Union is something that has happened in many places and at many times. It is unfortunate however that one of three supposed pillars of continuing Scottish identity, the Kirk, The Law and Education, in particular, has been so happy to go along with this “interpretation” of our past.

During the current Festival in Edinburgh, the YES Hub in Lasswade Road has been running a small exhibition with the SHS map and a series of excerpts from the Cantonment Registers, other contemporary government documents and material about the ethnic cleansing that took place after Culloden throughout the Highlands and Islands.

Some of this information comes from the Lyon in Mourning, an 18th-century collection of eye-witness accounts of the brutality of the British Army and other contemporary information that, strangely enough, has only been published in full once, at the end of the 19th century.

The hold that Jacobite songs and stories have had in Scottish culture over the past couple of centuries is evidence that despite the suppression of so much of our history, the oral traditions of the common people of Scotland have preserved the memory of what actually happened.

And that process of suppression has been echoed strangely over the past few weeks. The redoubtable Mike Blackstock who keeps the Edinburgh YES Hub going, has had several visitors who have come into the Hub to tell him that everything in the exhibition is “fake news” and one or two have them have mentioned me by name as both a liar and a fool.

It seems I have been accused of forging this evidence which, coming from people whose attachment to reality is clearly conditioned by their politics, may appear to one or two of you, as the pot calling the kettle black.

There is an aura of desperation in this as Brexiteers continue, with the active assistance of the British media, to peddle false news about both Europe and Scotland. However, as Oor Rabbie said, “facts are chiels that winna ding.”

The “official” story of the ’45 has tried to totally erase the reality that many Scots, Lowland as well as Highland have never forgotten the widespread popular antagonism there was to the Union in 1707. And it is in stories handed down through the generations that the reality underpinning Burns’ incisive critique of Scotland’s so-called, upper classes in Parcel of Rogues, has stayed part of our culture.

And in Burns’ time there were those like James Thomson Callendar who called for an end to the Union. He was one of the 1790s Radicals forced to flee Scotland because of his democratic ideals. If he had stayed he would have faced, at the least, trial for sedition and consequent transportation to Botany Bay like Muir, Fysshe Palmer, Margarot, Skirving, Mealmaker and others.

Or given his penchant for speaking unwelcome truth he may have faced a worse fate. Heading off to America, he ended up in Philadelphia and in 1795 he published a book whose title many will find resonant today: “The Political Progress of Britain or an Impartial History of Abuses in the Government of the British Empire in Europe, Asia and America since the Revolution in 1688 to the present time, the whole tending to prove the ruinous consequences of the popular system of Taxation, War and Conquest.”

They certainly don’t write titles like that any more. Thomson became famously involved in the scabrous political journalism of early 19th century America but has become almost forgotten in his native land. The truth about British Empire brutality in Kenya only came out publicly a few years back but Callendar was drawing attention to “an endless catalogue of massacres in Asia and America“ back in 1795.

And as for Africa this is what he wrote: “From Africa we import annually thirty to forty thousand slaves which rises in the course of a century to three million murthers.”

NOW the establishment line has long been that Scots did well out of the Empire and were great supporters of it. Many of those supposed “ upper classes”, the lairds and their hangers-on, certainly did quite well and many displaced Highlanders ended up serving in the British Army abroad, but to say they did well seems moot.

The idea of avid support for the Empire is also something that does not stand much investigation. I would like to quote something from the 1870s that echoes Callendar and also reflects another reality – that the Scots language was still a vibrant part of public life at the time.

This is from The People’s Journal, not a publication that has been associated with radicalism of any kind over the past century, but was written by its then editor W.D Latto writing under the nom-de-plume of Tammas Bodkin:

“We got India by murder, treachery an stouthreif, an we hae the cheek to blackguard Rooshia for annexin her neebors. What did we do the ither day in the Sooth o Africa? Did we no annex an independent republic ca’d the Transvaal? O yes, but that wis for the guid o the inhabitants.”

Back then newspapers were widely read and the People’s Journal was a very successful publication and it would be a brave, if not foolish editor, who ran articles that ran directly counter to the opinions and feelings of his readership.

Just over 10 years later Keir Hardie stood for the Westminster as an independent Labour candidate, going on to found the Independent Labour Party with a programme that included, apart from Home Rule for Scotland, Ireland and Wales, self-determination for the colonies. Hardly reflective of blanket support for the Empire “on which the sun never set”. You have to wonder what he would have thought of the sad crew standing for Labour these days.

Rees-Mogg, Johnson, Fox and their ilk may have fantasies of returning to the glory days of Empire but in Scotland there was always an awareness that the brutal expansion of British power across the globe was based on practices developed here, in the aftermath of Culloden. That there were several Scots to the fore in those brutal days should serve to remind us that the gatekeepers of establishment entitlement and privilege are with us yet.

And it should also be remembered that the policy of divide and rule so expertly used by the British across the globe has left a history, often ongoing, of violence and disruption in so many of the Empire’s former colonies. And why do the posh-boy Brexiteers think that countries across the world, that were looted by their predecessors, will be lining up to trade with their former colonial masters when the Brexit bourach comes to its probably disastrous conclusion? Could this possibly be down to the limitations of an education system that is so often claimed to “be the best that money can buy”? If it was me I‘d be wanting my money back.

The point here is not just that so much of our history has been denied, distorted or destroyed but that despite three centuries of such behaviour, the truth can still come out. And possibly even more importantly, the SHS cantonments map suggests that there may be lot more to find out about our past that has survived the machinations of the Empire Loyalists.

We live in truly momentous times with the ruling elite in England, accompanied by the usual baggage train of Scottish sycophants, having apparently lost the plot entirely but still clinging desperately to power.

Against this a farcical, if tragic background, anything that helps to further clarify how Scotland’s history has been traduced can only help further weaken the creaking bonds of loyalty still felt by some Scots to the dying carcase of a perhaps once proud, but perpetually brutal Empire.