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The Highlands and Islands of Scotland

"A detailed account of Scottish Highland history from the earliest times to now."

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LoveReading Says

LoveReading Says

Anyone who has climbed Scotland’s highest peak, Ben Nevis, will have come across a ruin at the top of it. This old weather station is where Alistair Moffat chooses to begin this enormous journey through the geographical and cultural history of Scotland. It’s an appropriate spot, since climate has been such a defining factor in the shaping of this land. No where else in Great Britain has glacial activity so influenced the future, carving out great lochs and valleys, providing grand natural partitions between settlements in which clans grew and saints and outlaws roamed.

The Highlands and Islands of Scotland is an extraordinary achievement from a writer who has now published something like twelve books on Scottish history, although none of them with such breadth and depth as this. Tectonic plates and the Ice Age through to the establishing of a people and then their many tribes and visitors. Then on to the wars of the last century and up to the present day. Picts, Vikings, Romans, Jacobites .. this small country on the edge of Europe has been the final destination for some, and for others a unique landscape on which to farm and feud.

Moffat is a kilt-weaver - he has mastered the craft of being able to draw threads through time and connect everything to what we see today, presenting it neatly and colourfully. It’s incredible to think that there were once polar bears roaming where campervans now lurch around the lofty bends of the north west. In recent years there has been an explosion of interest in the more distant reaches of Scotland, thanks in no small part by the creation of the North Coast 500. Travellers taking this route will discover a sense of large scale which is not available anywhere else in the UK. In order to do it justice Moffat’s book is also considerable in scale and scope, but with great skill he manages to provide immense detail, but not once did I feel that he (or I) had bitten off more than he could chew.

Over the centuries Scotland has managed to impress its cultural heritage around the world; you might say boxing above its weight. It is the birthplace of countless individuals who have made their mark in all disciplines. You name it - leaders, scientists, historians, writers. In these last two categories Alistair Moffat is certainly one of them. It’s a wonderful book.

Greg Hackett

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