Much of the negative literature of the Middle Ages drew heavily on the writings from Greek and Roman antiquity. The writings of Ptolemy in particular dominated concepts of Scotland till the late Medieval period and drew on stereotypes perpetuating fictitious as well as satirical accounts of the Kingdom of the Scots. The English Church and the propaganda of royal writs from 1337–1453 encouraged a barbarous image of the kingdom as it allied with England's enemy France, during the Hundred Years' War. Medieval authors seldom visited Scotland but called on such accounts as "common knowledge", influencing the works of Boece's "Scotorum Historiae" (Paris 1527) and Camden's "Brittania" (London 1586) plagiarising and perpetuating negative attitudes. In the 16th century Scotland and particularly the Gaelic speaking Highlands were characterised as lawless, savage and filled with wild Scots. As seen in Camden's account to promote an image of the nation as a wild and barbarous people:
They drank the bloud [blood] out of wounds of the slain: they establish themselves, by drinking one anothers bloud [blood] and suppose the great number of slaughters they commit, the more honour they winne [win] and so did the Scythians in old time. To this we adde [add] that these wild Scots, like as the Scythians, had for their principall weapons, bowes and arrows. Camden (1586)
Camden's accounts were modified to compare the Highland Scots to the inhabitants of Ireland. Negative stereotypes flourished and by 1634, Austrian Martin Zeiller linked the origins of the Scots to the Scythians and in particular the Highlander to the Goths based on their wild and Gothic-like appearance. Quoting the 4th-century Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus, he describes the Scots as descendants of the tribes of the British Isles who were unruly trouble makers. With a limited amount of information, the Medieval geographer embellished such tales, including, less favourable assertions that the ancestors of Scottish people were cannibals. A spurious accusation proposed by Saint Jerome's tales of Scythian atrocities was adapted to lay claims as evidence of cannibalism in Scotland. Despite the fact that there is no evidence of the ancestors of the Scots in ancient Gaul, moreover St. Jerome's text was a mistranslation of Attacotti, another tribe in Roman Britain, the myth of cannibalism was attributed to the people of Scotland:
What shall I [St. Jerome] say of other nations – how when I was in Gaul as a youth I saw the Scots, a British race, eating human flesh, and how, when these men came upon the forests upon heards of swine and sheep, and cattle, they would cut off the buttocks of the shepards and paps [breasts] of the woman and hold these for their greatest delicasy.
A part of the spurious De Situ Britanniae
Accepted as fact with no evidence, such ideas were encouraged and printed as seen in De Situ Britanniae a fictitious account of the peoples and places of Roman Britain. It was published in 1757, after having been made available in London in 1749. Accepted as genuine for more than one hundred years, it was virtually the only source of information for northern Britain (i.e., modern Scotland) for the time period, and historians eagerly incorporated its spurious information into their own accounts of history. The Attacotti were mentioned in De Situ Britanniae, and their homeland was specified as just north of the Firth of Clyde, near southern Loch Lomond, in the region of Dunbartonshire. This information was combined with legitimate historical mentions of the Attacotti to produce inaccurate histories and to make baseless conjectures. For example, Edward Gibbon combined De Situ Britanniae with St. Jerome's description of the Attacotti by musing on the possibility that a 'race of cannibals' had once dwelt in the neighbourhood of Glasgow.
These views were echoed in the works of Dutch, French and German authors. Nicolaus Hieronymus Gundling proposed that the exotic appearance and cannibalism of the Scottish people made them akin to the savages of Madagascar. Even as late as the mid-18th century, German authors likened Scotland and its ancient population to the exotic tribes of the South Seas. With the close political ties of the Franco-Scottish alliance in the late Medieval period, before William Shakespeare's Macbeth, English Elizabethan theatre dramatised the Scots and Scottish culture as comical, alien, dangerous and an uncivilised. In comparison to the manner of Frenchmen who spoke a form of English, Scots were used in material for comedies; including Robert Greene's James IV in a fictitious English invasion of Scotland satirising the long Medieval wars with Scotland. English fears and prejudices were deeply rooted, drawing on stereotypes as seen in Raphael Holinshed's Chronicles" and politically edged material such as George Chapman's Eastward Hoe in 1605, offended King James with its anti-Scottish satire, resulting in the imprisonment of the playwright. Despite this, the play was never banned or suppressed. Authors such as Claude Jordan de Colombier in 1697 plagiarised earlier works, Counter-Reformation propaganda associated the Scots and particularly Highland Gaelic-speakers as barbarians from the north who wore nothing but animal skins. Confirming old stereotypes relating back to Roman and Greek philosophers in the idea that "dark forces" from northern Europe (soldiers from Denmark, Sweden, Netherlands, France and Scotland) acquired a reputation as fierce warriors. With Lowland soldiers along the North Sea and Baltic Sea, as well as Highland mercenaries wearing the distinctive Scottish kilt, became synonymous with that of wild, rough and fierce fighting men.
However, the fact that Scots had married into every royal house in Europe who had also married into the Scottish royal house indicates that the supposed anti-Scottish sentiment there has been exaggerated as opposed to in England where the wars and raids in Northern England increased anti-Scottish sentiment. An increase in the English anti-Scottish sentiments after the Jacobite uprisings and the anti-Scottish bills of parliament are clearly shown in comments by leaders in English such as Samuel Johnson, whose anti-Scottish remarks such as that "in those times nothing had been written in the Earse [i.e. Scots Gaelic] language" is well known.