10 Scottish history books to read while self-isolating

04 January 2021
Treat yourself to a tour through Scotland’s history with our top ten reading list.

1. Scotland: a Concise History by Fitrzoy Maclean

In this revised edition of a classic work, Scotland’s story is brought right up to date, examining how the Scots identity is faring since the momentous Scottish referendum of 2014, and discussing the fate of the United Kingdom.

2. Payaby: an Island Odyssey by Christopher A Whatley

In this book, based on archival research, oral interviews, memory and personal experience, the author explores the history of this tiny island, to create a vivid picture of the trials, tribulations and joys of island life.

3. The Kings and Queens of Scotland by Richard Oram

This classic text, due to be reprinted later this year, charts the history of Scotland’s monarchy through the personal achievements of the individual rulers.

4. The Highland Clearances by Eric Richards

A wide-ranging exploration of the origins of the Clearances from the 18th century to their culmination in the crofting legislation of the 1880s. 

5. Tracing your Scottish Ancestry Through Church and State Records by Chris Paton

Genealogist Chris Paton examines the most common records used by family historians in Scotland, ranging from the vital records kept by the state and the various churches, the decennial censuses, tax records, registers of land ownership and inheritance, and records of law and order.

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6. Rival Queens by Kate Williams

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Kate Williams explains the basis of the rivalry between Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I of England and discovers why they embarked upon a collision course that would end with Mary’s execution at the hands of the English queen.

7. Kings of Alba: c.1000-c.1130 by Alasdair Ross

This volume, by History Scotland’s former editor, the much-missed Dr Alasdair Ross, studies a lesser-researched period of Scottish history, a period crucial to the creation of the medieval kingdom of Scots.

8. The Vikings by Magnus Magnusson

An exploration of the age of the Vikings, shown not just as raiders and pillagers, but as artists, craftspeople and traders.

9. Coronach by Kimberley Reeman

Let the truth be told...

SCOTLAND, JULY 1746: an army of occupation ravages the Highlands, committing atrocities with consequences that will reverberate across generations. From this bloody cataclysm, the battle-hardened English soldier Mordaunt saves an infant who will become his heiress and his obsession, and on his shattered estate a traumatised Franco-Scottish laird, Ewen Stirling, offers refuge to a boy damaged by unspeakable horror. Lose yourself in unforgettable historical fiction.

10. To the Ends of the Earth: Scotland’s Global Diaspora by Tom Devine

A major study of the global impact of Scots upon the wider world, with stories of those who left their homeland to begin a new life in places such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US.

Why not discover even history from the comfort of your home with our top five ideas for exploring Scotland's past through virtual history? All are free! CLICK HERE to read. 

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