Professor Tom Devine's knighthood has been described as the first conferred on a historian of Scotland.

That would be to overlook Sir Walter Scott - as the newly knighted author and academic somewhat provocatively points out. Historical novelist Scott was once dismissed by a critic as "a dusty exhumer of chronicles".

Such a description could never be applied to Professor Devine, whose five-decade career has coincided with a flourishing of interest in the study of Scottish history and whose dozens of books have stimulated readers within Scotland and furth of these shores, both by their literary merit and their erudition. His frequent public appearances have enhanced the impact of his research. With a talent for engaging listeners and readers at all levels, Sir Tom preaches the value of taking time out for thought. In an age of instant reaction, this is a lesson all of us would do well to heed.

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The honours system has become somewhat devalued of late, but this knighthood is merited. Professor Devine has done more than anyone to assert the importance and raise the profile of his subject, and the honour is therefore well deserved.