Books

 hawick Scotland: A History from Earliest Times

From the Ice Age to the recent Scottish Referendum, historian and author Alistair Moffat explores the history of the Scottish nation. As well as focusing on key moments in the nation’s history such as the Battle of Bannockburn and the Jacobite Risings, Moffat also features other episodes in history that are perhaps less well documented. From prehistoric timber halls to inventions and literature, Moffat’s tale explores the drama of battle, change, loss and invention interspersed with the lives of ordinary Scottish folk, the men and women who defined a nation.

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 bannock Bannockburn: The Battle for a Nation

Best-selling author Alistair Moffat offers fresh insights into one of the most famous battles in history.As 8,000 Scottish solders, most of them spearmen, faced 18,000 English infantrymen, archers and mounted knights on the morning of Sunday 23 June 1314, many would have that the result a foregone conclusion. But after two days’ fighting, the English were routed. Edward II fled to Dunbar and took ship for home, and only one English unit escaped from Scotland intact.The emphatic defeat of much larger English force was the moment that enabled Scotland to remain independent and pursue a different destiny. This book follows in detail the events of those two days that changed history. In addition to setting the battle within its historical and political context Alistair Moffat captures all the fear, heroism, confusion and desperation of the fighting itself as he describes the tactics and manoeuvres that led to Scottish victory. The result is a very human picture of Bannockburn that recreates the experience not only of the leaders – Edward II and Robert the Bruce – but the ordinary men who fought to the death on both sides.

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 hawick Hawick: A History from Earliest Times

As Hawick celebrates the 500th anniversary of the fight at Hornshole, the first stirrings of the defining traditions of the common riding, Alistair Moffat takes the narrative much further back into the mists of prehistory, to the time of the Romans, the coming of the Angles and the Normans. He recounts how Hawick got its name, where the old village stood, who the early barons of Hawick were and then charts the amazing rise of the textile trade, bringing the story right up to the present day. Beneath the familiar streets and closes lies an immense story – the remarkable and unique story of Hawick. If this book shows anything, it shows that Hawick has changed radically over the many centuries since people began to live between the Slitrig and the Teviot. All that experience in one place has created and invented much and the future will turn for the better for a simple reason. Hawick’s greatest invention is her people.

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 gtos The Great Tapestry of Scotland

The brainchild of bestselling author Alexander McCall Smith, historian Alistair Moffat and artist Andrew Crummy, the Great Tapestry of Scotland is an outstanding celebration of thousands of years of Scottish history and achievement, from the end of the last Ice Age to Dolly the Sheep. Over 500 volunteer stitchers spent a total of 55,000 sewing hours and 49,000 meters of yarn on the 140 panels that make up this extraordinary work of art. Like the Bayeux tapestry, the Great Tapestry of Scotland has been created on embroidered cloth, and is annotated in English, Gaelic, Scots and Latin. This book follows on from the paperback and shows in full colour plates the finished panels of the tapestry, one of the biggest community arts projects ever to take place in Scotland – together with descriptive and explanatory material.

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 britdnabook The British: A Genetic Journey

Hidden inside all of us – every human being on Earth – is the story of our ancestry. Printed on our DNA are the origins of our lineages, the time in history and prehistory when they arose, and the epic journeys people have made across the globe. Based on exciting new research involving the most wide-ranging sampling of DNA ever made in Britain, Alistair Moffat, author of the bestselling The Scots: A Genetic Journey, shows how all of us who live on these islands are immigrants. The last ice age erased any trace of more ancient inhabitants, and the ancestors of everyone who now lives in Britain came here after the glaciers retreated and the land greened once more. In an epic narrative, sometimes moving, sometimes astonishing, always revealing, Moffat writes an entirely new history of Britain. Instead of the usual parade of the usual suspects – kings, queens, saints, warriors and the notorious – this is a people’s history, a narrative made from stories only DNA can tell which offers insights into who we are and where we come from.

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 britlastfront Britain’s Last Frontier: A Journey Along The Highland Line

The Highland Line is the most profound internal boundary in Britain. First recognised by Agricola in the first century AD (parts of its most northerly portion mark the furthest north the Romans got) it divides the country both geologically and culturally, signalling the border between Highland and Lowland, Celtic and English-speaking, crofting and farming. In Britain’s Last Frontier best-selling author Alistair Moffat makes a journey of the imagination, tracing the route of the Line from the River Clyde through Perthshire and the North-east. In addition to exploring the huge importance of the Line over almost two thousand years, he also shows how it continues to influence life and attitudes in 21st-century Scotland. The result is a fascinating book, full of history and anecdote.

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 scots The Scots: A Genetic Journey

History has always mattered to Scots, and rarely more so than now at the outset of a new century, with a new census appearing in 2011 and after more than ten years of a new parliament. An almost limitless archive of our history lies hidden inside our bodies and we carry the ancient story of Scotland around with us. The mushrooming of genetic studies, of DNA analysis, is rewriting our history in spectacular fashion. In Scotland: A Genetic Journey, Alistair Moffat explores the history that is printed on our genes, and in a remarkable new approach, uncovers the detail of where we are from, who we are and in so doing colour vividly a DNA map of Scotland.

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 fadedmaps The Faded Map: The Lost Kingdoms of Scotland

Modern communications have driven motorways and pylons through the countryside, dwarfed us with TV and telephone masts and drastically altered the way in which we move around, see and understand Scotland. Recent politics and logistics have established borders and jurisdictions which now seem permanent and impervious. “The Faded Map” sees past these and remembers a land that was once quiet and green. It brings to vivid life the half-forgotten kings and kingdoms of two thousand years ago, of the time of the Romans, the Dark Ages and into the early medieval period. In this fascinating account, Alistair Moffat describes the landscape these men and women moved through and talks of a Celtic society which spoke to itself in Old Welsh, where the Sons of Prophesy ruled, and the time when the English kings of Bernicia held sway over vast swathes of what is now Scotland. Heroes rode out of the mists to challenge them and then join with them. The faint echo of the din of ancient battles can be heard as Alistair Moffat takes the reader on a remarkable journey around a lost Scotland.

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 highlandclans The Highland Clans

The story of the Highland clans is a gripping one, full of celebrated names and heroic deeds. It is also, as Alistair Moffat reveals, the story of a fearless people, shaped by the unique traditions and landscape of the Scottish Highlands. Here, he traces the history of the clans from their Celtic origins to the coming of the Romans, through the great battles of Bannockburn and Flodden, to the Clearances and the present day. The images bring the stories to life with historical portraits and depictions of significant events such as the battles or the Highland dances, to name but a few. The story of the clans is also about the pain of leaving, with the great emigrations to the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Complete with a clan map and an alphabetical list of the clans of the Scottish Highlands, this is a must for anyone interested in the history of Scotland.

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 tuscany-l Tuscany: A History

Ever since the days of the Grand Tour, Tuscany has cast its spell over the British. Attracted by the perfect combination of history, art, architecture, superb natural beauty and weather – not to mention magnificent traditions of food and drink – British visitors and residents have been at times so numerous that the local word for foreigners was simply ‘gli inglesi’ – ‘the English’. Currently over 10,000 Britons live there, not to mention the huge numbers who travel there for holidays. What is it that makes this exquisite part of Italy so seductive? To answer this question Alistair Moffat embarks on a journey into Tuscany’s past. From the flowering of the Etruscan civilization in the seventh century BC through the rise of the powerful medieval communes of Arezzo, Luca, Pisa and Florence, and the role the area played as the birthplace of the Renaissance, he underlines both the area’s regional uniqueness as well as the vital role it has played in the history of the whole of Italy. Insightful, readable and imbued with the author’s own enthusiasm for Tuscany, this book includes a wealth of information not found in tourist guides, and is the only modern history of the area available in English.

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 the_wall The Wall: Rome’s Greatest Frontier

Hadrian’s Wall is the largest single Roman monument in the world and the most impressive Roman legacy north of the Alps. In 2006, more than a million people visited some part of the 73-mile long site, and four years ago it became a World Heritage site and a path was laid out along its whole length. “The Wall” tells the story of Hadrian’s Wall, its makers, its effect and its impact on northern Britain. An extravagant folie de grandeur? An effective military barrier? A string of customs posts? Encompassing all of these things and much more, the Wall is a staggering phenomenon. With more than 24 million stones, its mass is greater than all of the Egyptian pyramids, and its scale is almost beyond grasp. 30,000 soldiers and craftsmen worked for 10 years to complete it, and when the great sea-wall down the Cumbrian coast was completed, it stretched for around 120 miles. Native kings must have shuddered at this amazing barrier. There is evidence that the garrison rendered the surface of the Wall and painted it white. A stunning statement of imperial power – throwing a girdle of stone across the waist of Britain. “The Wall” will be the first substantial treatment of the Wall for 30 years.

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 border-reivers-l-new The Reivers: The Story of the Border Reivers

Only one period in history is immediately, indelibly and uniquely linked to the whole area of the Scottish and English Border country, and that is the time of the Reivers. Whenever anyone mentions ‘Reiver’, no-one hesitates to add ‘Border’. It is an inextricable association, and rightly so. Nowhere else in Britain in the modern era, or indeed in Europe, did civil order break down over such a wide area, or for such a long time. For more than a century, the hoof-beats of countless raiding parties drummed over the border. From Dumfriesshire to the high wastes of East Cumbria, from Roxburghshire to Redesdale, from the lonely valley of Liddesdale to the fortress city of Carlisle, swords and spears spoke while the law remained silent. Fierce family loyalty counted for everything while the rules of nationality counted for nothing. The whole range of the Cheviot Hills, its watershed ridges and the river valleys which flowed out of them became the landscape of larceny while Maxwells, Grahams, Fenwicks, Carletons, Armstrongs and Elliots rode hard and often for plunder. These were the Riding Times and in modern European history, they have no parallel. This book tells the remarkable story of the Reivers and how they made the Borders.

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 eastlothian East Lothian

by Liz Hanson and Alistair Moffat

Most of us move too quickly through the landscape and townscape, hurrying about our daily business, looking where we are going, too seldom noticing where we are. East Lothian deserves  more than a traveller’s glance.  It is one of the most gently striking parts of Scotland, its long vistas fill the eye, its volcanic rocks recall ancient drama and its beautiful fields roll down from the Lammermuirs to the blue of the sea and a far horizon.The photographer, Liz Hanson, has often stopped to look at East Lothian, every part of it, and over many years her camera has captured all its seasons and many of its unique atmospheres.  The still of a warm summer evening, vivid splashes of wild flowers in the dunes at Gullane, the stubborn humps of Traprain, North Berwick Law and the Bass Rock, the graphic bleakness of bare trees and snowy fields – all these and much more fill these pages.Punctuating Liz Hanson’s record of the essential nature of East Lothian is a short history by Alistair Moffat.  The story turns out to be as dramatic and beguiling as the landscapes and townscapes. Together the words and pictures speak quietly but clearly of a beautiful place.

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 tyneside Tyneside: A History of Newcastle and Gateshead from Earliest Times

by Alistair Moffat and George Rosie

Tyneside bursts with pride – not a swaggering conceit but the most obvious, warm and pungent sense of civic pride in Britain. Tynesiders know who they are and everybody else does too. And yet there exists no comprehensive history of the place. Not since the middle of the nineteenth century, has there been a detailed treatment of the remarkable story of how Tyneside was made and how it came to look, sound and behave the way it does. “Tyneside: A History of Newcastle and Gateshead from Earliest Times” tells that glittering tale, from the retreat of the ice fields 10,000 years ago, through the coming of the Roman Emperor Hadrian, the glories of Northumbria, the stunning achievement of Bede of Jarrow, the building of the New Castle in 1080 and the dangerous beginnings of the coal trade to the dizzying growth of the Industrial Revolution, the trials of the football team and its heroes, and the renewals of the twenty-first century. All this and a welter of supporting detail, colour, anecdote, tradition and good, solid, scholarly popular history can be found in this substantial history of Tyneside, Gateshead and the River Towns. This is the intriguing tale of a unique, magical and dynamic place, and the remarkable people who made it.

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 before-scotland-l-new Before Scotland: The Story of Scotland Before History

The story of the land that became Scotland is one of dramatic geological events and impressive human endeavour.  Alistair Moffat’s gripping narrative begins 10,000 years ago, when the power of the icebreak and meltwater at the close of the Ice Age produced the familiar Scottish geography of mountains, glens, flatlands and coasts.  Bands of hunters moved north, many of whom probably crossed from the lost peninsula of Doggerland, so vividly evoked by the author.  Modern DNA studies show that almost 80 per cent of the present population of Britain are the direct descendants of these first hunter-gatherer-fishers.

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 homing-new Homing

After the deaths of his grandmother and his father, Alistair Moffat discovered that they had kept hidden what they saw as a shaming secret. Moffat soon realised that he had grown up in ignorance of his family’s past. In moving detail, he describes his search for the reality of his grandmother’s life, and as he uncovers more of her story he begins to understand why she, his father and others have been so secretive. Homing captures a lost world of terraced council houses, gardens with picket fences and of local grocery vans, re-runs of the Second World War played out among the potato patches, and of heroes like Dan Dare, Digby and Jack Brabham. It is an unforgettable evocation of a post-war childhood and a tender exploration of a past that will be familiar to many.

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 heartland-l Heartland – Images of the Scottish Borders

by Liz Hanson and Alistair Moffat

This book is a story of moments, magical moments caught in the quiet and intuitive eye of award winning photographer, Liz Hanson. For twenty years she has observed the Border landscape and waited for the yellow evening sun to throw the river valleys into the relief or for the snow on Cheviot to glint behind a stand of stark winter trees. These photographs are beautiful, elegant and above all truthful, taken with an unfussy clarity which succeeds in refracting the spirit of this place through the lens of a camera in the moment of a shutter-click. Perhaps it is precisely because of their unpretension that these images speak the language of the heart and capture the fleeting essence of the Borders.

Although he has lived most of his live away from the Tweed Valley, Alistair Moffat has never ceased to call it home. And to accompany Liz Hanson’s photographs, he has written an essay on the history of the Borders, his heartland in every sense.  In 2002 The Borders: A History of the Borders from Earliest Times was published. It reached No. 1 in the Scottish bestseller and the critics were generous.

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 borders The Borders: A History of the Borders from Earliest Times

This is the story of The Borders: A place of beginnings and endings, of differences and similarities, it is the story of England and Scotland, told not from the remoteness of London or Edinburgh or in the tired terms of National histories, but up close and personal, toe to toe and eyeball to eyeball across the Tweed, the Cheviots, the Esk and the tidal races of the upper Solway. This is a tale told in blood, fun and granite-hard memory.This is the story of an ancient place; where hunter-gatherers penetrated into the virgin interior, where Celtic warlords ruled. The Romans came but could not conquer, where the glittering Kingdom of Northumbria thrived, the place where David I MacMalcolm raised great abbeys, where the border rivers rode into history, and where Walter Scott sat at Abbotsford and brooded on an immense past.No narrative history of The Borders has been published since the 19th century, and ‘the Borders’ tells a long awaited story of a unique place with a sweeping, eventful and important posterity.

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 sea-kingdoms The Sea Kingdoms: The History of Celtic Britain and Ireland

The Sea Kingdoms is a history of whispers and forgetfulness, of how the memories and understandings of the Celtic peoples of Britain and Ireland almost faded into inconsequence.  It is the story of those who repeatedly lost the war for Britain, who have been marginalized and ignored, but who have nevertheless survived.Today, even in England and lowland Scotland, regions where Old Welsh and early Gaelic have long since fled, ancient place names evoke the early inhabitants of the land, and the remnants of a rich Celtic culture and history can be found.  Over the centuries the propaganda of the victors – whether Romans, Vikings or others – converted Celtic virtues to vices, so that the rich verbal skills and feats of memory of a non-literate society became garrulousness, while Celts became known for their temperamental, hot-headed nature.  Alistair Moffat looks beneath the clichés to rediscover a vital part of our most ancient heritage.Moffat’s journey, encompassing the Scottish islands, Scotland itself, the English coast, Wales, Cornwall and Ireland, looks deep below the surface of modern-day life, ignoring artificial national boundaries to search out the stubbornly lingering, if sometimes frail, remains of a once powerful people.  The sea unites these apparently distant regions: for 500 years, possibly longer, there existed a sea going Celtic culture which stretched as far south as the Algarve up to the northern coasts of Scotland.  Whether in Ireland, the northern tip of Scotland or in Cornwall, he reminds us of the farms, fortresses and harbours which echoed to the speech of the Celts.  In doing so he discovers something fresh and new – another country within our own.

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 arthur Arthur and the Lost Kingdoms

Alistair Moffat builds up a thesis which enables him to reveal the location and identity of the real Arthur, arguing that he was not a king but a cavalry general chosen around 500AD to lead a coalition army. The key to Moffat’s thesis lies in place-names and their derivation, and that the lost medieval city of Roxburgh and its castle were Arthur’s Camelot.

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 charles-rennie Remembering Charles Rennie Mackintosh

A biography of architect and interior designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh, which draws on interviews, letters and papers to provide an insight into his character, the way he worked, and the effects of his life and work on those around him. First published in 1989.

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 kelsae Kelsae

A definitive local history, where street corners and even individual cobblestones rate a mention, “Kelsae” is a comprehensive yet affectionate history. Beginning with the foundation of Scotland’s greatest medieval abbey in 1128, it goes on to reconstruct from documents the lost burgh of Scotland, Roxburgh. Once as important as Edinburgh and Dunfermline in medieval Scotland, now nothing whatsoever remains of the old town. After the Reformation and destruction of the Abbey, Kelso became uninvolved in national politics and settled into the beautiful market town it is today. Alistair Moffat brilliantly uses anecdote, illustration and oral history bring the modern period to life. At its heart Kelsae is what local history should be – accurate. Every detail of the town’s history, from its involvement in international politics to the correct spelling of the name of a close that disappeared in 1805, has been painstakingly researched, providing the reader with a vibrant and vigorous account.

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 fringe The Edinburgh Fringe

The Edinburgh Fringe is the biggest arts festival in the world. It began in 1947, when eight theatre groups turned up uninvited to add their artistic efforts to the first Edinburgh Festival. Today the Fringe comprises of hundreds of groups presenting an enormous number of shows. This book is the first attempt to record the history of this phenomenon.  Alistair Moffat looks at the growth and development of the fringe, its importance and influence; at performances and performers; and at the critics and their views.  London Fringe, American Fringe, the Traverse Theatre, the Pool Theatre, and many, many groups, actors and playwrights are indebted to the Edinburgh Fringe.It is Impossible to recapture the spontaneity and the fun of the thousands of shows brought to Edinburgh. But here, for the record, are the facts.

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