The strength of Scottish identity lay not only in the figure of the Highlander, but also in a sense of Scotland’s ancient legendary past, enshrined in the potent myth of Ossian.
In the mid-eighteenth century, the poet James Macpherson had produced what he claimed was a faithful translation of an epic of primeval Scotland by an ancient Celtic bard named Ossian. In fact Macpherson had heavily edited fragments of Gaelic poems and added much of his own writing. His poems nevertheless provided sentimental and dramatic scenes for many late-eighteenth-century artists including English painters like Charles Ryley.
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