IT is ironic that during the debate on the teaching of Scottish history Hamish MacPherson perpetuates the myth of Mons Graupius battle, while accusing Leave voters of ignorance of our history. Many contributors to your pages seem to blame Unionists or Westminster for the dearth of knowledge, but I’ve always thought it has been we Scots and our education system who are more to blame (the Scottish cringe?).

The battle of Mons Graupius never took place and exists only in one letter written by Tacitus to try to boost the failing reputation of his father-in-law, Agricola, some 14 years after Agricola’s return to Rome. Tacitus had gone to Gaul but never visited Britain, let alone Scotland.

I’ve often wondered why our learned scholars cling to the myth of this battle, discussing possible locations, and to the idea that nearly everything we seem to enjoy derives from the Roman occupation. I welcome newer research showing the unique Celtic culture and that there had been a civilisation before the Romans.

MacPherson mentions Skara Brae in Orkney and I remember a quote from some anthropologist “that to adhere to the theory of how Britain was occupied from south to north we have to ignore the existence of Skara Brae!” More honesty is needed if we are to present a proper history of Scotland.

Sandy Stronach
Strichen, Aberdeenshire

THE series of articles by Hamish McPherson on Scottish history are fascinating and enlightening. I think it would make a great book of essays on Scottish history.

It would make a valuable contribution to understanding Scotland in an accessible way. We can see where we came from, and not always through the English historical lens.

Bryn Edinburgh
via email

THREE years on from the EU referendum, we have rightly been engulfed on the political scene with the Leave word – Brexit. This word is all about exiting and leaving and I am afraid it not only applies to the UK exiting the EU, it has more harshly applied to the less well-off in society being abandoned.

Professor Alston, an expert on human rights law who was appointed by the UN to investigate poverty levels in the UK, has issued a damning report and concluded that “much of the glue that has held British society together since the Second World War has been deliberately removed and replaced with a harsh and uncaring ethos”. The professor went on to say government policies had led to the “systematic immiserating [economic impoverishment]” of a significant part of the UK population, meaning they had continually put people further into poverty.

Quite staggering remarks and a staggering indictment of the Westminster Government. Many will testify to the damning roll-out of Universal Credit, austerity cuts, the bedroom tax and benefit sanctions (in many cases due to no fault of their own).

Here in Scotland the Scottish Government, in an effort to address poverty and protect the vulnerable and needy, established the Scottish Welfare Fund in 2013, giving crisis grants and community care grants to those in need. In just five years of this fund being made available, more than 316,000 households have been assisted, with awards totalling £181.6 million.

Poverty is a major issue for so many who are in employment on low wages or zero-hour contracts, and it is so harrowing for those trying to provide for their families on a week-to-week basis.

And it is a tragedy that the use of food banks is increasing at an alarming rate. We have even heard that as a result of the roll-out of Universal Credit some schools in England have opened their own food banks. What a tragedy.

Poverty will always be with us, but hopefully not at the alarming rates seen today. The Westminster Government must waken up and realise the harmful impact their policies are having on current and future generations. Benefit freezes and sanctions are a false economy and punish the most vulnerable.

So as Westminster continues to spend hours and hours of parliamentary business time on a stalemate Brexit, costing the country millions, perhaps the government should spare a thought for those who through their policies have been plunged into poverty.

Catriona C Clark

I WAS puzzled during the BBC Reporting Scotland programme which was broadcast on the evening of May 22. Why would a reporter be sent 400 miles south to ascertain the views of the voters of the town of Hastings on the south coast concerning Brexit and the European elections? A journey of only a few miles to a town such as Hamilton would have been sufficient. Then I remembered. There would be no chance of speaking to any SNP supporters.

Alan Laing