History and Origins
The origins of Scottish Gypsy Travellers, or Nackens, are commonly held by experts to be traceable to North-West India. It is believed that Gypsy warriors were expelled from India and gradually migrated westward around 1000 AD.
Official records note the arrival of Romanies in Scotland around 1505, several years before the earliest record of their presence in England at Lambeth Palace.
Research has noted that ‘cultural osmosis and intermarriage’ ensued between the Romanies and a group of pre-existing craftsmen referred to as ‘tynklers’; this name emerged on account of the tinkling noise they made in the production of tin wares. The art of tinsmithing was a widespread occupation among Gypsy groups throughout Europe. On that basis, the tinsmiths may have constituted an earlier band of Gypsy migrants who self-identified with the new arrivals given that marriage outwith the group was, and still is, relatively uncommon. Therefore, it is ‘neither practical nor possible to distinguish between who is a Gypsy and who is a Traveller’. They have merged and evolved over the centuries into one community of people.