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Scotland's Forgotten Past

A History of the Mislaid, Misplaced and Misunderstood

Alistair Moffat


A charming, lively and often amusing tour of 36 forgotten episodes and overlooked people and places of Scottish history

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While Scotland’s history cannot be separated from its kings and queens, saints and warriors, there is a rich story to tell about the country’s lesser-known places, people and events. This colourful history of Scotland tells those other tales, half-forgotten or misunderstood, that have been submerged by the wash of history. Bringing these stories to light and to life, this entertaining book reveals the richness and complexity of this nation on the northwest edge of Europe.

Alistair Moffat guides us from the geological formation of the land that makes up Scotland to the first evidence of human habitation right up to modern times. In the process, we learn about the cave of headless children, the origins of the Scottish kings and the real heroes of Scottish independence, the invention of tartan and the romance of the Highlands, Scotland’s answer to Shakespeare, and the many U.S. Presidents with Scottish heritage, among many other fascinating tales brought to life by Joe McLaren’s attractive woodcut-style illustrations. Even the most knowledgeable Scot will experience a sense of newfound knowledge and appreciation for this unique country, its history and people.

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'Illuminating 36 neglected or misunderstood episodes in Scotland’s history, this book deserves a place on the school curriculum'
Allan Massie, The Scotsman

'Engaging … beautifully written believe-it-or-not episodes from Scottish history'
The Wee Review

'Moffat’s journey into Scotland’s lesser-known stories is a window into things we thought we knew but probably didn’t!'
People's Friend

'A charming, lively and often amusing tour'
Border Telegraph

'Subtle and engaging'
The Field

'Full of interest'
Fact or Fiction

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Size: 19.8 x 12.9 cm

Extent: 224 pp

Illustrations: 37

Publication date: 19 January 2023

ISBN: 9780500252642

Contents List

1. The Primeval Pile-Up
2. The Great Halls
3. The Cave of the Headless Children
4. High Noon on Lewis
5. Nailed
6. Bad Spelling
7. The Problem of the Picts
8. The Pirate Kings
9. English Scotland
10. The Islands of the Strangers
11. The Lost Cities
12. Fatal Attraction
13. Wallace, Moray and Bruce
14. Smarter Scots
15. Whaur’s Yer Wullie Shakespeare Noo?
16. The Chapel
17. Robert Carey’s Ride
18. The Chosen People
19. 1707
20. Frankenstein
21. The Brilliant Blacksmith
22. The Man in Tights
23. The Fire of the Dram
24. Aberdeen Angus
25. Tweed
26. Peter Pan
27. Ugly Scotland
28. The Stop Line
29. The Scottish Nazi
30. The Battle Rant
31. Tom Johnston
32. Stone Broke
33. Scotch Irish
34. The Scottish Cringe
35. Margot’s Man
36. Reconvened

About the Author

Alistair Moffat was born in Kelso, Scotland. He is an award-winning writer and historian, and was Director of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and is former Rector of the University of St Andrews. He is founder of Borders Book Festival and Co-Chairman of The Great Tapestry of Scotland. His many books include The Highland Clans (also published by Thames & Hudson), To the Island of Tides: A Journey to Lindisfarne and The Hidden Ways: A History of Scotland’s Forgotten Roads.

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