New book

The Men of the North
‘….. a textbook and a very useful one, addressing a real gap in the market.’ Martin Carver (Antiquity, December 2011)

‘….. well-written and extensively researched … a valuable reference work for a complicated period.’ David Devereux (Transactions of the Dumfriesshire & Galloway Natural History & Antiquarian Society, 2011)

‘….. impressive breadth of coverage and clarity of expression.’ Philip Dunshea (The Historian, Summer 2012)

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The Men of the North offers a narrative history of the North Britons from AD 400 to 1100. It looks at the kingdoms they established in the early medieval period and at relations between the Britons and neighbouring peoples such as the Picts, Scots and Anglo-Saxons. Notes for each chapter direct the reader to a bibliography of primary and secondary sources.

The book’s contents include:

* an investigation of theories about the kingdom of Rheged and its location
* a critique of the current consensus on the battle of Catraeth
* a detailed study of the battle of Arfderydd/Arthuret (AD 573)
* a logistical/topographical study of the battle of Strathcarron (AD 643)
* a tour of Early Christian sites in southern Scotland
* a continuous narrative history of the kingdom of Strathclyde from its beginnings in Roman times to its downfall c.1050

Illustrations include maps, photographs and genealogical tables.

Published by Birlinn of Edinburgh, under the John Donald imprint, and available from Amazon UK and Amazon USA. Also available as an e-book for the Kindle.

Until the publication of The Men of the North there had never been a textbook for the North British kingdoms—its appearance should be welcomed by undergraduates, teachers, and the general public alike.’ Philip Dunshea (International Review of Scottish Studies, 2012)

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31 comments on “New book

  1. Mak Wilson says:

    Look forward to reading this Tim!


    • Tim says:

      I’ll be interested to hear what you think, Mak. My musings on Rheged, Catraeth, etc will no doubt look familiar when you see them in print.

      • Mak Wilson says:

        I’ll certainly let you know my thougts once I’ve read it.

        Above you say:

        “Published by Birlinn of Edinburgh, under the John Donald imprint. Here’s a link to the book’s page on the Birlinn website.”

        But I can’t see a link.


  2. Mak Wilson says:

    Found the link Tim!


    • Tim says:

      Having taken another look, Mak, I’ve now altered the text to make the link a bit clearer.

      • Mak Wilson says:

        Hi Tim,

        Really enjoyed your thought provoking and well written work. Some very interesting theories and conclusion in there Tim. I do have one question for you with regards to your thoughts on where Rheged might have been, and that is why you didn’t mention Urien as being called the “lord of the cultivated plain”, as well as of Catraeth?

        Anyway, well done again and I look forward to reading your new edition of the Picts book.


  3. Michelle says:

    Looking forward to it! I love the cover picture. It reminds me of the cattle raids in the Rheged poetry.

    • Tim says:

      Yes, the scene does have a certain vibrancy, as much as the equestrian carvings on the Pictish stones (even though this one – the Govan horseman – is less well known).

  4. Congratulations! Does this make you the new Nora Chadwick?

    • Tim says:

      Thanks, Jonathan.

      As something of a Chadwick disciple I’m happy just to be mentioned in the same blog comment.

      • An Anglo-Saxonist colleague of mine has named her daughter Nora after the great lady: the succession is thus arranged, you must move fast into the interregnum 🙂

        • Tim says:

          Not being called ‘Nora’ seems likely to put me out of the running (and rightly so). But maybe we’ll expect great things from this young namesake in the future?

  5. Phil says:

    Congrats Tim. Have got this on order along with Alastair Moffat’s ‘The Faded Map: The Story of the Lost Kingdoms of Scotland’. Looking forward to reading both. Moffat is giving a talk on his book on 22 Sept at the NLS here in Edinburgh – I have my ticket 🙂

    • Tim says:

      Thanks, Phil.

      I must grab a copy of The Faded Map. I think I saw it announced in the Birlinn catalogue earlier this year. Sounds like an interesting book.

      • Phil says:

        I’ve now read The Faded Map – really enjoyed it. Moffat is ‘conventional’ on the locations of both Rheged and Catraeth, suggests Addinston as the site of the battle of Degsastan and Burnswark or the Wirral for Brunanburh.

        Excellent section on Bernicia which he describes as a kind of Anglo-British condominium in its early days(which I agree with). Chapter on Strathclyde was a wee bit light I thought.

        His talk at the NLS was entertaining, I had the opportunity to compliment him on the book afterwards. Found him a very pleasant chap.

        I now have a copy of your book – hope to read it over the next week or so.

  6. Larry Swain says:

    COngrats Tim! Looking forward to giving it a read.

  7. Mike says:

    COngratulatons on the publication mate!

  8. […] my recently-announced book The Men of the North: the Britons of Southern Scotland, the new edition of Picts is published by […]

  9. Tim says:


    This is a reply to your comment above about Urien Rheged – the reply buttons there seem to have run out, so I’m slotting it in here.

    You wondered why I left out Taliesin’s description of Urien as ‘lord of the cultivated plain’.

    I toyed with the idea of including it but, in the end, I decided to leave it out as it’s a non-specific term which didn’t seem part of the core debate. Other geographical snippets from the poetry got left out for the same reason. Space was a major factor as I didn’t want to spend too many pages on Urien, knowing that he was always going to get more word-count than the other British kings. So I homed in on Rheged, Llwyfenydd, Aeron, ‘the Sea of Rheged’, and a few battles, with Catraeth and Goddeu being examined separately. This meant leaving out the ‘cultivated plain’ which, as I’m sure you know, has been suggested as the lower valley of the River Eden. For me, the term is simply too vague to be tied to any particular place.

    On the other hand, now that you’ve mentioned it, I’m tempted to add it to my list of future blog posts.

    Thanks also for your positive feedback on the book.

  10. Mak Wilson says:

    Hi Tim,

    Hope you do add it to you future blog. I’ll be interested to read you thoughts.

    It is indeed too vague to be tied to any particular region, but it does mean a plain was part of their domain, which rules out it just being in a moorland area. It also makes sense that a powerful ‘kingdom’ had such an area.


    • Tim says:

      It certainly fits with our image of Urien as a king with access to substantial military and economic resources. A large area of fertile farmland would have yielded the agricultural surplus necessary to sustain a warrior-aristocracy. If I get around to writing a blog post on this topic, I’ll probably start by checking if ‘cultivated plain’ is the correct (or only) translation.

  11. Buannan says:

    Really enjoyed the book. I particularly enjoyed the chapter on strathclyde.

    • Tim says:

      Thank you, Buannan. Gathering the Strathclyde data was the most enjoyable part of the research, mainly because it lay outside my old ‘comfort zone’ of pre-800 AD.

  12. Hi Tim,

    I just wanted to congratulate you about this book. English isn’t my first language (I’m breton), but I both found it easy to read and really interesting. Started it on saturday, just two chapters left!

    Your arguments are very convincing aswell. I liked the discussion about Catraeth, even as a tenant of the Catterick=Catraeth theory. I think on some occasions those early medieval warlords may have raided a bit far from their homelands, at least it is proved for rulers such as the Bernician king, Aedan of Dal Riada, Cadwallon and Penda.

    I won’t hesitate to advise your book as an excellent reading!

    Benjamin/Morcant, from the living history group Letavia.

    • Tim says:

      Thank you, Benjamin. I’m pleased to hear my book is reaching the old kingdoms of the Britons across the Mor Breizh.

  13. Bezuhof says:

    Try reading

    A New History of the Picts
    by Stuart McHardy

    you’ll learn a lot. It’s from a veery Scottish perspective which no doubt you will appreciate.

    • Tim says:

      Yes, it’s an excellent book. Stuart is always worth reading (or listening to – as I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this blog). I used to own a copy of his 1989 book Strange Secrets of Ancient Scotland which dealt with the folklore attached to Pictish stones – but then I lent it to someone and never got it back. Must make a note to chase that one up….

  14. […] The above genealogy is essentially the one shown in my book The Men of the North: the Britons of Southern Scotland. It is based on a table presented by Dauvit Broun on page 135 of his article ‘The Welsh […]

  15. […] The article was written by Tom Manley and contains contributions from two of the foremost authorities on Govan’s early mediaeval history Professor Stephen Driscoll and Tim Clarkson […]

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