A new mini-series is set to expose Scotland’s role in the Transatlantic slave trade.
Slavery: Scotland’s Hidden Shame is presented by David Hayman, who takes a very personal and impassioned look at a subject which has often been overlooked.
Filmed across three continents, it demonstrates the many and intricate ways in which Scotland and the Scots were embroiled in the trade – contrary to the generally held view that much of Britain’s involvement in the slave trade lay elsewhere in the country.
As the series reveals Scots were plantation and slave owners, merchants, ship owners and crew, surgeons, investors and bookkeepers.
The two one-hour programmes also show the legacies of Scotland’s role: how the money generated funded agricultural and industrial progress; how it shaped a huge proportion of the nation’s built environment; and the influence of the slave trade on the lives of people of colour in Scotland today.
Slavery: Scotland’s Hidden Shame is something of a breakthrough, unveiling for a popular audience what has been a history neglected by all but activists and academics.
Within the programmes, the reasons behind the hiding of this shameful period in Scottish history are contemplated, not least the threat these truths pose to our nation’s self-identity as egalitarian, and the ethos of ‘we’re all Jock Tamson’s bairns’.
So much more than a straight history documentary series, Slavery: Scotland’s Hidden Shame sees Hayman travel across Britain, to Sierra Leone, and to Jamaica.
Fuelled by a long-held anger at his beloved home city and country for sweeping the story under the carpet, David Hayman talks to a wide range of people dealing with the trauma of this past, and looking at ways to ensure this story – the shame and the legacy – is not swept aside or forgotten.
Nowhere is that anger and sadness seen more than in Sierra Leone, where David Hayman visits Bunce Island, once a slave-fort run by Scots.
In the second episode, Hayman goes to Jamaica with Glasgow Councillor and slave descendant Graham Campbell and discovers Scottish links at every turn, from the phonebook to vast plantations named ‘Hampden’ or ‘Glasgow’.
Closer to home in Liverpool and Bristol, places often associated with the slave trade and the wealth it generated, he finds modern-day amends to marking and acknowledging the toll of slavery.
Slavery: Scotland’s Hidden Shame starts next Tuesday, 6 November, on BBC Two Scotland from 9-10pm.