by Colette Cameron
The term gypsy is a misnomer derived from Egyptian, much like the label Indian for Native Americans, and Romany Gypsies are quite different than the Highland Scottish Travellers or Black tinkers as they were known.
Though both groups, as well as at least a half a dozen other nomadic tribes, traveled throughout Scotland, the Roma’s origins trace back to India, whereas the Black Tinkers (in Gaelic-The Ceárdannan or the craftsmen) are mostly a genetic indigenous Scots.
That meant I had to rethink Tasara Faas, my heroine in Heartbreak and Honor.
I’d written a story with a part Roma heroine before, The Viscount’s Vow, but the Highland gypsies were vastly different. Everything from her dress, customs, and speech had to be researched because she's far more like a Scotswoman than a Romany.
Some Scottish Highland Traveller families do claim Roma heritage, and their Scottish–Gaelic cant contains Romany or Anglo-Romany words. In fact, some groups call themselves Nackin which is thought to be of Hindi origin.
No surprise there since the various tribes date back at least five hundred years in Scotland. However, the prevalence of the Roma influence is seen more in the Lowland travellers rather than the Highlands.
The Black Tinkers language is secret and has never been recorded in writing, according to one source. Many hold typical Scottish surnames such as Stewart, Macmillan, MacDonald, and Cameron. They possess a strong belief in the importance of family and purity taboos, much like the Roma travellers.
And much like the European Roma, the Highland Travellers were (are) a maligned segment of population. Stereotyped as thieves, con men, and fortune tellers, stories were broadly circulated that gypsies would kidnap children. In an odd twist, gypsies’ feared abduction themselves. Many disappeared and were thought victims used in medical schools for dissection. Rumors abounded of illegitimate children of the gentry or haute ton, being sold or given to the gypsies as well.
Highland Travellers were so despised, that during the 17th century, Scottish law ordered them to “quit the realm” or hang. Scottish Travellers toted their goods in carts and pitched bowed tents while the Roma typically lived in vardos, a type of caravan wagon. Some sources also claim the Highland Scottish Travellers used caravans as well.
Today, usage of the terms gypsy or even tinker is considered derogatory.
Though a Scottish Regency Romance, Heartbreak and Honor uses the abduction and persecution elements of the Scottish gypsies to help spread their unique, and often unfortunate, tale.
What unusual elements do you enjoy reading about in a historical romance?
Heartbreak and Honor, Highland Heather Romancing a Scot Series, Book 3
Abducted by a band of renegade Scots, Highland gypsy Tasara Faas blackens her rescuer’s eye when the charming duke attempts to steal a kiss. Afterward, Tasara learns she’s the long-lost heiress Alexandra Atterberry and is expected to take her place among the elite society she’s always disdained.
Lucan, the Duke of Harcourt, promised his gravely ill mother he’d procure a wife by Christmastide, but intrigued by the feisty lass he saved in Scotland, he finds the haut ton ladies lacking. Spying Alexa at a London ball, he impulsively decides to make the knife-wielding gypsy his bride despite her aversion to him and her determination to return to the Highlands.
The adversary responsible for Alexa’s disappearance as a toddler still covets her fortune and joins forces with Harcourt’s arch nemesis. Amidst a series of suspicious misfortunes, Lucan endeavors to win Alexa’s love and expose the conspirators but only succeeds in reaffirming Alexa’s belief that she is inadequate to become his duchess.
Her award-winning Castle Brides Series, Highland Heather Romancing a Scot Series, and Conundrums of the Misses Culpeppers Series, as well as her other books, are all available on Amazon and other major retailers.
Check out the giveaway on Collette's website at collettecameron.com.
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