THE FUTURE of South Yorkshire soil has been thrown into turmoil following the re-emergence of an ancient treaty which reveals it is not just the future of Scotland which hinges on the outcome of today’s referendum.
As millions of voters take to the ballot box, The Yorkshire Post exposes a gross oversight in both the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ campaigns - should the country opt to break away from the United Kingdom, it threatens to take Doncaster with it.
The town was signed over to Scotland more than 900 years ago as part of the Treaty of Durham, after King David successfully stormed large areas of northern England.
It remained in Scottish hands for 21 years until Henry II appeared to reclaim the town under English rule in 1157 - but it was never formally given back.
Until now, the claim to the land has been overlooked by Scots, leading politicians and even Doncaster North MP and Labour leader Ed Miliband.
Local historian Dr Charles Kelham told The Yorkshire Post: “David had invaded England in support of his niece, the Empress Matilda, the widow of a Roman Emperor whose claim to the throne of England seemed to have rather more justification than Stephen’s.
“Stephen bought David off at the meeting in Durham by offering him a selection of additional estates, one of which was the manor and soke of Doncaster. It was a sweetener, effectively.
“He had the terms of the arrangement amended such that these additional estates were to be given by Stephen to his son and heir, Henry, prince of Scotland.”
Prince Henry of Scotland is credited with shaping the history of the town and formally establishing Doncaster as a borough, but the prince predeceased his father in 1152, and David himself died the year after.
While records indicate the soke had reverted to the English crown by 1156, there is no documentary evidence of a formal return of the land.
“The arrangement did not last long, but it is right it appears that there was never any official giving back,” added Dr Kelham.
Fresh calls for ‘Bonny Donny’ to be returned by Caledonian counterparts appeared to fall on deaf ears when they were made two years ago.
The appeal had the opposite effect - strengthening ties between the two by leading to its inclusion on a piece of artwork called The Scottish Diaspora Tapestry, which tells the history of the country in 150 panels.
And while it is has been deemed unlikely that SNP leader Alex Salmond will attempt to seize possession of the town should his country vote for independence, the story draws interesting parallels with the referendum.
This time, however, it is devo-max, not Doncaster, which is being offered as a compromise. The town’s leaders and Mr Miliband have used the connection as a last-minute bid to bolster the Better Together campaign.
He said: “It’s an interesting quirk of history. Doncaster is a great place and Scotland is a great country – as part of the same nation the two have a great deal to offer each other.”
Doncaster’s mayor Coun Ros Jones said: “Doncaster has strong historic links with Scotland, including the Scottish miners who came to work in the borough. Like many other local authorities, the council flew the Scottish flag at the weekend in solidarity for the Union. While it is down to Scotland to decide, I think we are better together and I hope a ‘no’ vote will be returned.”