New book on early medieval Scotland

Makers of Scotland: Picts, Romans, Gaels and Vikings

‘an approachable introduction to the written sources of early medieval Scotland and the constantly changing kingships and allegiances of the period’ – Elizabeth Pierce (Scottish Archaeological Journal, 2013)

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This is my latest book. It’s similar to the one I wrote on the Picts but covers a wider area and a longer timespan. My intention with Makers Of Scotland is to present a narrative history of the northern parts of Britain in the first millennium AD, using a linear chronology from 0-1000. The book inevitably overlaps with The Picts: a History at many points, and with The Men of the North: the Britons of Southern Scotland at several more, but differs from both of these by looking at all the peoples of early medieval Scotland rather than at one particular group.

The chapter headings give an idea of the structure:

1 – BC to AD
2 – The Later Roman period
3 – Britons, Picts and Scots
4 – Christian beginnings
5 – Celt and Saxon
6 – The struggle for power
7 – The northern churches
8 – The Vikings
9 – Alba
10 – Kings and bishops
11 – The birth of medieval Scotland
Appendix A: Genealogies
Appendix B: Timeline
Further Reading

The above list shows where the straight linear chronology is interrupted at three points (Chapters 4, 7 and 10) when the spotlight falls on religious developments. Chapter 4 looks at the transition from paganism to Christianity, while the other two chart the expansion of the new Faith and the increasing prominence of an ecclesiastical elite.

With Makers I’ve followed the format of Picts by not including footnotes or endnotes. Instead, it has a 7-page ‘Further Reading’ section presented as a bibliography divided by broad topics such as Roman Scotland and Art & Sculpture.

Illustrations include maps and eight pages of plates (a selection of b&w photographs, with some fine old drawings of Pictish stones by John Romilly Allen).

The very striking cover design is by Jim Hutcheson and Victor Albrow.

Makers of Scotland: Picts, Romans, Gaels and Vikings is published by Birlinn Books of Edinburgh under the John Donald imprint. Paperback, 240 pages. UK price: £14.99.

The book is available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

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30 comments on “New book on early medieval Scotland

  1. OK thats pretty much a guaranteed purchase from me. Still need info on 7th C Scotland so looks useful.

  2. badonicus says:

    I’ will be purchasing this as soon as my wife lets me! 🙂

  3. This sounds great. I’m particularly interested in the Æthelfrithings’ and Iffings’ interactions with the Picts and men of the north…

    • Tim says:

      Thanks for your interest, Nicola. The narrative is inevitably a bit compressed with so much history to cover but I made sure Hild got a namecheck in the section on the Easter Controversy. The Aethelfrithings pop up quite frequently and Rieinmellth gets a mention too.

  4. Dan Elsworth says:

    Does it stray into Cumbria at all?

    • Tim says:

      Here and there, Dan, but mostly relating to the north of the county rather than Cartmel, Furness and other areas we’ve been discussing recently. Birdoswald and Carlisle turn up in the Roman bit, as do Arthuret and ‘Rheged’ later on, with a brief mention of Eamont 927 near the end. All are fairly brief references.

  5. esmeraldamac says:

    Brilliant, Tim – I can’t believe I missed this post. I wondered why you’d been quiet – stuck in the editing wasteland, eh? Oh, and I’m obviously interested in Dan’s question too 🙂

    • Tim says:

      Hello Diane. Yes, I’ve been fairly quiet on the blogging front lately. Got a backlog of posts to write – for both blogs. Hoping to get back on track quite soon.

  6. phil says:

    Quite a task you set yourself Tim – 1000 years of scottish history in 200 pages! You’ve pulled it off though, the narrative flows well making for a very enjoyable read.

    • Tim says:

      Thanks for this, Phil. Makes me feel it was worth the effort. Please let me know if you see the book next time you visit NMS.

  7. […] Clarkson of Senchus has a new book out on The Makers of Scotland and has been working on restoring local history to Govan, the heart of ancient […]

  8. pauladefougerolles says:

    My copy, ordered from US, is classified as a pre-order and has not yet shipped. (The US release date is listed as June 1). Looking forward to it!

  9. […] Senchus: Anyone interested in Scotland during the Middle Ages and Early Modern eras will find this a most valuable resource indeed: New book on early medieval Scotland. […]

  10. Nice work, Tim, I think a book like this is much needed; the Ritchie’s Scotland is about all there is other than Smyth that’s accessible at this kind of level. I shall have to see about adding it to the collection 🙂

    • Tim says:

      Thanks Jonathan. When planning this book I had Warlords & Holy Men in mind as a kind of template, although I’ve opted for a straight chronology rather than Smyth’s thematic approach.

  11. Mark Morton says:


    I recently picked up The Picts and The Makers of Scotland from amazon in the US. I enjoyed both books very much and filled a void in my knowledge of Scottish history.

    Mark Morton

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