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Alistair Moffat was born and bred in the Scottish Borders. A former Director of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and Director of Programmes at Scottish Television, he now runs the burgeoning Borders Book Festival as well as a production company based near Selkirk. He has written twelve books, including Kelsae, The Reivers, The Sea Kingdoms, The Borders and The Wall, all of which are published by Birlinn.
One of the biggest community art projects ever to take place in Scotland, a tapestry recording Scottish history from the Ice age to Dolly the Sheep. The brainchild of Alexander McCall Smith with historian Alistair Moffat and artist Andrew Crummy, the tapestry will be unveiled in August 2013. This record of the Tapestry comes with a foreword from Alexander McCall Smith. Like for Like ReadingThe Bayeaux Tapestry: The Life Story of a Masterpiece, Carola HicksThe Great Tapestry of Scotland, Alistair Moffat and Andrew Crummy £30.00 Hardback 128 pages Birlinn 7th November 2013 9781780271606 “The creation of this wonderful tapestry has been an experience of sheer joy. Not only has the team of artist and stitchers created a stunning record of Scotland’s history, but the project has brought together hundreds of people in all parts of Scotland in joint artistic endeavour. In the many hours that the stitchers have spent together they have experienced the pleasure of making something permanent and beautiful; they have felt what it is to create art with others; they have found friendship.” “We have all learned a lot from this. Many of us have learned a bit of history; many of us have learned about the desire that people have to engage in joint creative activity with others. Everyone, I think, has learned that what might seem a ridiculously ambitious project can succeed if there is enough love and enthusiasm and courage about. And there is.” “I salute the visionary artist, Andrew Crummy, and his team of hundreds, led by Dorie Wilkie. I salute their magnificent artistry. I salute their generosity. I salute their good humour. This tapestry is their creation, given to the people of Scotland and to those who will come to Scotland to see it.” – Alexander McCall Smith, 2013 Visit www.scotlandstapestry.com to find out more.
November 2013 Non-Fiction Book of the Month. Based on a new set of DNA samplings – one of the biggest yet, Alistair Moffat and James Flett Wilson are able to reveal the history of Britain told through the lives of its people, who we are and where we came from. It’s a journey that has many surprises and shocks to challenge our view of Britishness. Click here to see The Scots: A Genetic Journey by the same author.Like for Like ReadingThe Origins of the British: A Genetic Detective Story, Stephen OppenheimerThe Seven Daughters of Eve, Bryan Sykes
July 2011 Guest Editor Alexander McCall Smith on Tuscany by Alistar Moffat... Alistair Moffat writes beautifully on history and topography. Here he leads us through that most entrancing of Italian regions, Tuscany.
Fourteen centuries ago, Irish saints brought the Word of God to the Hebrides and Scotland's Atlantic shore. These 'white martyrs' sought solitude, remoteness, even harshness, in places apart from the world where they could fast, pray and move closer to an understanding of God: places where they could see angels. Columba, who founded the famous monastery at Iona, was the most well-known of these courageous men who rowed their curraghs towards danger and uncertainty in a pagan land, but the many others are now largely forgotten by history. In this book, Alistair Moffat journeys from the island of Eileach an Naoimh at the mouth of the Firth of Lorne to Lismore, Iona and then north to Applecross, searching for traces of these extraordinary men. He finds them not often in any tangible remains, but in the spirit of the islands and remote places where they passed their exemplary lives. Brendan, Moluag, Columba, Maelrubha and others brought the Gaelic language and echoes of how the saints saw their world can still be heard in its cadences. And the tradition of great piety endures.
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. Based on exciting new research involving the largest sampling of DNA ever made in Britain, Alistair Moffat shows the true origins of our island's inhabitants.
In To the Island of Tides, Alistair Moffat travels to - and through the history of - the fated island of Lindisfarne. Walking from his home in the Borders, through the historical landscape of Scotland and northern England, he takes us on a pilgrimage in the footsteps of saints and scholars, before arriving for a secular retreat on the Holy Isle. Lindisfarne, famous for its monastery, home to Saints Aidan and Cuthbert and the place where the celebrated Lindisfarne Gospels were written, has long been a place of sanctuary. It is an island rich in history: the Romans knew it as Insula Medicata; it reached the height of its fame in the dark ages, even survived Viking raids, before ultimately being abandoned after Henry VIII's dissolution of the monastaries. Today the isle maintains its position as a space for retreat and spiritual renewal. To the Island of Tides is a walk through history, a meditation on the power of place, but also a more personal journey; a chance for a personal stock-taking and a reflection on where life leads us.
This is the story of the border: 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 MacMalcolm raised great abbeys, where the border rivers rode into history, and where Walter Scott sat at Abbotsford and brooded on the area's rich and historic legacy.
Shortlisted for the Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards In The Hidden Ways, Alistair Moffat traverses the lost paths of Scotland - its Roman roads tramped by armies, its byways and pilgrim routes, drove roads and railways, turnpikes and sea roads - in a bid to understand how our history has left its mark upon our landscape. As he retraces the forgotten paths that shaped and were shaped by the lives of the now forgotten people who trod them, Moffat charts a powerful, surprising and moving history of Scotland.
Shortlisted for the Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards In The Hidden Ways, Alistair Moffat traverses the lost paths of Scotland. Down Roman roads tramped by armies, warpaths and pilgrim routes, drove roads and rail roads, turnpikes and sea roads, he traces the arteries through which our nation's lifeblood has flowed in a bid to understand how our history has left its mark upon our landscape. Moffat's travels along the hidden ways reveal not only the searing beauty and magic of the Scottish landscape, but open up a different sort of history, a new way of understanding our past by walking in the footsteps of our ancestors. In retracing the forgotten paths, he charts a powerful, surprising and moving history of Scotland through the unremembered lives who have moved through it.
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.
Based on exciting new research involving the largest 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.
A history of Scottish ancestry that combines the new genetic knowledge gained from DNA with written history and archaeology to give the first full picture of the Scots and their heritage. Click here to see The British: A Genetic Journey by the same author.Like for Like ReadingTracing Your Scottish Ancestors, National Archives of ScotlandA History of Scotland, Neil Oliver A 'Piece of Passion' from the publisher... 'Alistair Moffat’s two books on DNA history (The Scots: A Genetic Journey and The British: A Genetic Journey) are extraordinary achievements. As a best-selling historian and director of a highly successful DNA testing company he’s uniquely qualified to provide for the general reader an accessible yet historically and scientifically informed account of a very complicated story. He always writes very clearly (good news for any editor!) and his use of feature boxes to include fascinating complementary material only adds to the appeal.' - Andrew Simmons, Editorial Manager, Birlinn Ltd
Hadrian's Wall is the largest, most spectacular and one of the most enigmatic historical monument in Britain. Nothing else approaches its vast scale: a land wall running 73 miles from east to west and a sea wall stretching at least 26 miles down the Cumbrian coast. Many of its forts are as large as Britain's most formidable medieval castles, and the wide ditch dug to the south of the Wall, the vallum, is larger than any surviving prehistoric earthwork. Built in a ten-year period by more than 30,000 soldiers and labourers at the behest of an extraordinary emperor, the Wall consisted of more than 24 million stones, giving it a mass greater than all the Egyptian pyramids put together. At least a million people visit Hadrian's Wall each year and it has been designated a World Heritage Site. In this book, based on literary and historical sources as well as the latest archaeological research, Alistair Moffat considers who built the Wall, how it was built, why it was built and how it affected the native peoples who lived in its mighty shadow. The result is a unique and fascinating insight into one of the Wonders of the Ancient World.
As 8,000 Scottish soldiers, most of them spearmen, faced 18,000 English infantrymen, archers and mounted knights in June 1314 near the Bannock Burn, many would have thought that the result a foregone conclusion. But two days later, the English were routed, Edward II fled to the coast and took ship for home, and few English and Welsh soldiers escaped from Scotland unhurt. This emphatic victory was the moment that enabled Scotland to remain independent and pursue a different destiny. In this book, best-selling author Alistair Moffat offers fresh insights into one of the most famous battles in history, yet one which is surprisingly little understood. Where exactly was it fought; and what happened at the Scottish council of war the night before the second day to persuade the Scots to attack at dawn?This book follows in detail the events of those two days that changed history, and captures all the fear, heroism, confusion and desperation as he describes the tactics and manoeuvres that led to a stunning and unexpected Scottish victory.
'Alistair Moffat's Bannockburn is a pacy account of the days leading up to the battle' - Saturday Herald 'A carefully considered account of a well-trodden historical event, Moffat enlightens and educates with an up-to-date interpretation of a battle firmly cemented in Scottish history' - Scottish Field 'Mr Moffat's account of the duel between Bruce and de Bohun is totally gripping and he is particularly enthralling about the councils of war onthe eve of the second day's battle' - Country Life 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.
December 2012 Travel Book of the Month. 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. With an introduction from Aberdeenshire born Radio 4 Today presenter James Naughtie it is a fascinating book, full of history and anecdote and a lovely gift for any 'Scotophile'.
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.
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.
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 looks beyond these to remember 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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