‘History police’ to challenge Scottish museum’s mistakes

Ms Stevenson objected to an official 
display claiming that Robert
 the Bruce murdered John Comyn in Dumfries. Picture: Robert Perry
Ms Stevenson objected to an official display claiming that Robert the Bruce murdered John Comyn in Dumfries. Picture: Robert Perry
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A tour operator has set up a national “History Police” forum to allow the public to report misleading or inaccurate information at museums and local information boards.

Catriona Stevenson, 31, who runs Clyde Coast Tourism, was inspired to set up the group after becoming annoyed by the number of factual mistakes and “completely biased” displays at famous monuments around Scotland.

However, she insisted her History Police group was not merely about complaining, but primarily a place for people
to discuss often disputed aspects of Scotland’s history in the hope of inspiring them to find out more.

Ms Stevenson started pointing out inaccuracies on Twitter using the #historypolice
hashtag and uploading 
videos on YouTube, but has now set up a Facebook page for 
people around Scotland to join the growing crusade.

She said: “As a tour guide I go to places all over the country, and it started with little inaccuracies here and there I was starting to notice. At first I just ignored it but as time went on I thought, ‘No, I’m going to try to do something about this.”

At the Bannockburn battle-field site, one of Scotland’s most famous tourist spots, she objected to an official 
display claiming that Robert
the Bruce murdered John Comyn in Dumfries.

Historical accounts of the incident are disputed, she said, with some suggesting that the fatal incident may have been a fight or a duel and not a premeditated killing.

During the Commonwealth Games in 2014, Ms Stevenson also saw a panel in Glasgow stating that James Watt was born in the city. After she pointed out he was from Greenock, it was changed.The tour guide said she also objected to seeing monarchs referred to by their English rather than Scottish titles, with numerous historical sites using King James I and II instead of James VI and VII.

She said: “The idea is that it’s not about me, it’s something that I think everybody should be doing. It’s really more of a discussion than anything else, to make people aware of the history.”

Historical sites do not always take kindly to her objections. Last month she sparked a row with the Isle of Arran Heritage Museum over its display about the Highland Clearances, claiming that it glossed over the brutal nature of the policy.

The museum hit back, saying that the people who left Arran during the clearances had an “element of choice” and that force was not used to make them leave, as in other parts of Scotland.

After a review, it left the 
display as it was.