By Darren Burke, Thorn and District Gazette
New research has revealed that Doncaster was seized by the Scots nearly 900 years ago – and may never have officially been handed back.
Local historians Peter Robinson and Charles Kelham have unearthed evidence that Doncaster was under Scottish rule for 21 years from 1136 to 1157. But while the town was officially signed over between the kings of England and Scotland, it seems it was never formally handed back.
Now tourism bosses hope the revelation could spark a Tartan Army invasion – meaning bagpipes, haggis, kilts, whisky and caber tossing could become part of everyday life.
Doncaster Tourism manager Colin Joy said: “I love it – it is so quirky and has amused and intrigued everyone I have mentioned it to. What really intrigued me was that a formal handing back seems to be lacking.”
The pair found that during the reign of King Stephen of England, King David I of Scotland conquered parts of northern England.
A peace treaty – The Treaty of Durham – was agreed in 1136 and Doncaster – but nowhere else in Yorkshire – was handed over to Scotland.
A second treaty three years later confirmed Scottish ownership but in 1157, Henry II of England simply took back areas lost to the Scots – but without any official paperwork to seal the deal.
Peter, a Doncaster Museum officer, said: “We have King David coins dating from that time found in Doncaster so the links are certainly there. But it is unlikely Doncaster would have been noticably affected under Scottish rule.”
One of Doncaster’s most high-profile Scots, John Quinn, mayor on two separate occasions in 1993 and 2002, admitted the revelation was news to him – and joked he could have saved time travelling south from his home town of Fife in 1962!
He joked: “Maybe we’ll have to start issuing passports. If I’d have known I could have had a castle instead of the Mansion House!
“Maybe we can start marketing Doncaster as a Scottish tourist destination like Edinburgh.”
Scottish piper and busker Stuart McLoughlin said: “I might not be the only one wearing a kilt in the town centre from now on! I’d be happy if Doncaster was in Scotland – I’d be on home ground.”
But the news could upset Doncaster Rovers fans – the Scottish Premier League have said the club would be denied automatic entry to the top flight.
A spokesman said: “They’d have to fight their way up through the leagues rather than playing the likes of Celtic and Rangers. But I am sure the Scottish Football Assocation would be more than happy to talk to a new club,” she chuckled.
On a more serious note, the discovery could have legal ramifications in the Scottish independence bid and Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond is due to meet PM David Cameron today – although Doncaster is unlikely to be on the agenda.
But a spokesman for the Scottish Nationalist Party said Doncaster would be greeted with open arms and added: “Doncaster is a fine town. If the people of Doncaster ever wanted to rejoin Scotland and benefit from all the good work of the SNP government, we would make them very welcome.”
Read more about the Scottish Borders.
- Reprinted with permission from Doncaster’s Thorn and District Gazette.