Rose George on a sympathetic history of hostilities faced by Travellers and GypsiesSettlement, as Bruce Chatwin is quoted as saying in Katharine Quarmby’s forcefully written book on modern nomads such as Gypsies and Travellers, is a relatively new habit of humans, who have been settled for only 10,000 years, a blip in the evolutionary calendar. But it is a new habit that has produced a “settled community” that is hostile, bigoted and suspicious of any peoples who do choose to wander or travel. Hinging on the notorious and violent eviction of the Irish Traveller encampment at Dale Farm, the book roams more widely than that scrapyard in Essex, to the persecution of Gypsies and Travellers through history, and the persistent and unpleasant scapegoating of a people who were different from the moment they arrived on this island in the 16th century and try their best to remain so.Five hundred years ago, there were vagabonds from Ireland and others supposedly from Egypt, hence the word “Gypsy” (although the Gypsy language Rom has more in common with Sanskrit spoken in northern India). In 1554, the Egyptians Act gave the crown power to remove Gypsies from England “by any violent means necessary”, and …read more

Via: The Guardian | Books