Edinburgh Castle is to review the name of a cafe named after British redcoat soldiers after nationalists claimed it was offensive to Scots.
Historic Environment Scotland (HES), which runs the castle, said it was open to renaming its Redcoat Cafe after 32 years, following attacks from hundreds of independence supporters, including SNP politicians.
An online petition, which has attracted more than 1,000 signatures since Sunday, said the name celebrated an “occupying force” and “perpetuates a painful legacy associated with the oppression of our nation”.
Those criticising the name pointed to the British Army’s role in the Highland Clearances and the Battle of Culloden.
HES said it was reviewing the name, as well as its Jacobite function room, following the backlash as “the way we interpret history is constantly evolving”.
The furore had begun on social media after the castle advertised that its Redcoat Cafe, which serves hot food, soup and sandwiches, had reopened following a refurbishment, and invited people to “pop in for a warm beverage or even a tasty slice of cake”.
Douglas Chapman, the Fife SNP MP, and Kevin Stewart, an SNP MSP and former Scottish Government minister, were among those to express their outrage over the name.
Among other nationalists to criticise the name of the cafe were Tricia Marwick, a former Holyrood presiding officer, who responded to the castle’s cafe advertisement by saying “tell me this isn’t for real”.
Mr Chapman, MP for Dunfermline and West Fife, said: “I don’t think many will be “popping in” for anything. How about a swift rebrand? Redcoat, really?”
Mr Stewart, and Aberdeen MSP and former transport minister, added: “This can’t be for real, surely? If so, this is a huge misjudgement.”
‘This reflects historical illiteracy’
Sir Tom Devine, Professor Emeritus of Scottish History at the University of Edinburgh, however, dismissed the argument that the name was offensive as nonsensical, as Scots had played a major role in the British army since the 18th century.
“The view that the name of the cafe is offensive to Scots is simply ludicrous and reflects historical illiteracy,” Sir Tom, widely seen as Scotland’s top historian, told the Telegraph.
“Scottish officers, soldiers and kilted Highland regiments have had a high profile in the British Army from the Seven Years War (1756-1763), especially during the famous battles for Empire, and like the rest of the infantry wore red or scarlet tunics until the later 19th century.
“See for example the famous painting of The Thin Red Line by Robert Gibb of the 93rd Highlanders confronting Russian cavalry at the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War.”