WHEN I learned that the National Trust for Scotland had registered Glencoe as a trademark I assumed that April had come early. Then I heard the NTS representative on the radio claiming that they owned Glencoe, Glenfinnan, etc.

No you don’t, and I have friends in Glenfinnan who have already recovered their claymores from the thatch at the suggestion. You might own part of these places, though I thought your assets were held in trust; such is the Percy Unna legacy for Glencoe at least.

Now we learn that Culloden is no longer in the domain of the folk who live there either. I might be a community land activist but I’ve learned enough to realise that it’s pretty arrogant for any owner to set themselves up as sole guardians for an area. We’re certainly in the lean news season and I’m pleased that this has been exposed but I hope the NTS will use my subs for something more useful in future.

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I have a feeling that Glencoe will exist for some long time after the demise of the National Trust for Scotland; whatever will we do then?
John C Hutchison
Badabrie, Fort William


Human rights do not exist without access to courts

EDWARD Freeman (Letters, August 8) reminds me that one of the benefits of EU membership is its moderating influence on some of Westminster’s excessive and harsh control over the rights and standards for UK citizens.

Paradoxically, isn’t this the cause of resentment of the right wing and its antipathy to the EU – the very reason why it seeks to repatriate that control back to the UK, and to them?

Isn’t the reality that we only have human rights in the UK if we can access the law courts to enforce them?

Unless part of a group supported by campaign organisations, the rollback of legal aid leaves many of us as individuals without the means to defend our rights, and at the whim of a draconian government as evidenced by May’s and others’ stewardship of the Home Office.

Applying successive government diktat, isn’t the reality that the Home Office is working against our rights rather than serving to protect us in accordance with them?

The secondary issue has to be the number of cases found against government enforcing its measures against individuals.

Generally government seeks legal advice from external sources before enacting legislation. The identity of these sources is protected for commercial reasons, which means that while we pay the bill for the advice, we have no control over who is engaged to provide the advice.

We have no understanding what the criteria for their selection is, or whether they are merely cronies of those in government rather than being selected for expertise they should be accountable for.

Given the apparent failures in law through cases lost by the Home Office, why should their identities be secret which renders them unaccountable?
Jim Taylor

IT is very telling in the First Minister’s comments on Michelle Thomson that now the threat of court action is over, she is willing to speak directly to Ms Thompson (‘Investigation wasn’t easy for the SNP either’, The National, August 8)

I’m afraid this shows the First Minister in a very poor light. She simply stood by and got her lackeys to get Ms Thomson to resign the party whip and even though she must have known – as most right-thinking people did – that this was nothing more than a media stitch-up, the First Minister cut all communication with one of her MPs.

I must admit I am very disappointed in Nicola Sturgeon.This doesn’t show any leadership ability – only moral and personal cowardice.

I would hate to have spent years campaigning for independence and the SNP and as soon as the press attack you turn around and find your party leader cutting you off from all communication. Poor show indeed Nicola!
Bernadette Kelly

IT is a pity that Hamish MacPherson should perpetuate the idea that James Macpherson’s Poems of Ossian was “the world’s greatest literary hoax” when recent scholarship has contested this (The stuff of legend ... with a fair few myths thrown in, The National, August 8).

Examples include Derick Thomson’s The Gaelic Sources of Macpherson’s Ossian (1952); Fiona Stafford’s insightful biography of Macpherson, The Sublime Savage (1988); and Howard Gaskill’s best-selling edition of The Poems of Ossian, published in 1996 by Edinburgh University Press.

What Macpherson did was to take Highland sources (oral folktales) and Irish accounts with which he was familiar and dress them up in English for an Anglophone public imagining, from his tutelage under Thomas Blackwell at Aberdeen University, that these folktales around the figure of Fionn (whom he dubbed Fingal) somehow signified fragments of an epic poem like Homer’s Iliad or Odyssey.

In this, of course, he was trying to reconstruct a foundation epic, rather as Elias Lonnrot was to do later with the Kalevala from oral sources in Finland and Estonia. But Macpherson did not set out to “hoax” the public.

His defence of his sources was muddled, of course, when Sam Johnson accused him of not having written evidence such as manuscripts (Macpherson actually did, as for example The Book of the Dean of Lismore).

The influence of the poems was enormous and impressed luminaries such as Thomas Jefferson, Napoleon, Goethe, Schiller, Coleridge, Burns, and many others. The poems inspired around 60 operas and hundreds of musical compositions, the most famous of which is, of course, Mendelssohn’s “Fingal’s Cave” Overture (1832), composed as a result of the composer’s visit to Staffa in 1829.

So rather than dismissing “the whole tissue of nonsense as a human-crafted myth”, many knowledgeable readers will already be aware of a more nuanced account of Macpherson’s aims and achievement.
James Porter

A RECENT article in The National said Mary, Queen of Scots was our only queen (Mary, Queen of Scots prison site to be unearthed, The National, August 1). I say Margaret the Maid of Norway was also queen between 1286 and 1290, although not crowned which is not necessary. The queen, who unfortunately died in Orkney, was also going to be betrothed to Edward I’s son.
Hamish MacQueen