Page last updated at 08:38 GMT, Monday, 14 July 2008 09:38 UK

Academic studies Poland's Scots

Scotland's national flag
Up to 40,000 Scottish families could have been flying the flag in Poland

A phenomenon of Scots migration to Poland which at one point was a source of embarrassment in the British Empire, is being investigated by a lecturer.

Dr David Worthington said some sources had claimed there were as many as 30,000 to 40,000 Scots who lived in Poland during the 16th and 17th centuries.

His research comes at a time of dramatic change among Scotland's Polish migrant worker communities.

Dr Worthington will deliver a lecture on Scotland's historic links with Poland in Inverness on 23 July.

His studies, which are complemented by work being done by friends and colleagues, has found references to the phenomenon in academic sources.

Dr Worthington, a newly-appointed lecturer in Scottish history at the UHI Centre for History in Dornoch in the Highlands, said soldiers, musicians and academics saw Poland as a land of opportunity at times of economic and religious upheaval at home.

He said: "Many people know about the wave of Poles who came here during World War II, but not of Scots going to Poland."

Poles fled to Britain following German invasion in World War II, many going on to form military units
Hundreds of migrant workers who have come to Scotland in past few years are now returning to Poland, sparking concerns of a labour shortage
At the time of the Scots exodus, the Netherlands and Poland were considered among Europe's most tolerant nations

The lecturer, who has spent two spells living and working in Poland, said historical sources such as 17th Century author and traveller, William Lithgow, estimated there were more than 30,000 Scots families in the country.

There are references of exiles from all over Scotland, including Orkney and Caithnesss.

Dr Worthington said by the late 1600s the migration eastwards was almost an embarrassment to the British Empire's establishment which was calling out for Scots to be more involved in colonies such as Jamaica.

Meanwhile, in the course of his studies, the academic found a story of a prominent Pole who on his travels through Scotland was most impressed by hardy Highlanders.

Dr Worthington said: "He tells a story of a young man he met who told him he once wrapped up a pile of snow and put it under his head as a pillow, but his grandfather said he couldn't do that because it was too effeminate and not acceptable."

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