A Dictionary of Scottish History

A Dictionary of Scottish History

A Dictionary of Scottish History

A Dictionary of Scottish History


This is an indispensable tool for professional and amateur historian alike. The most comprehensive short dictionary available, it includes thousands of entries encompassing events, institutions, titles, offices, as well as personal entries on political, cultural, and ecclesiastical figures. Originally published in 1977, it is now back in print.


Scottish historians are not ill equipped with substantial and reliable works of reference. It is hardly an exaggeration to say that Dunbar's Scottish Kings consists of Scottish history arranged chronologically, the Ordnance Gazetteer consists of Scottish history (and much else besides) arranged topographically and the Scots Peerage consists of Scottish history arranged biographically and dynastically. Those often over-worked epithets, 'invaluable' and 'indispensable' are most fittingly applied to such older books, as well as to more recent works like Dr I.B. Cowan's Parishes of Medieval Scotland and his revision of Dr D.E. Easson's Religious Houses: Scotland, Professor Duncan's revision of Professor Pryde's list of The Burghs of Scotland (though it does not include the many parliamentary and police burghs created in the nineteenth century) and G.F. Black's The Surnames of Scotland. Other works deal with the clergy and the holders of various offices. Besides, much information about Scottish history is to be found in the Dictionary of National Biography, various Encyclopaedias and the great Dictionaries, especially the Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue and the Scottish National Dictionary. But, while those books are the everyday working tools of the professional historian, and of the amateur who has the time and opportunity to use a good library, many of them are at once too bulky and too costly (if obtainable at all) to be in the homes of many people who want ready access to essential facts.

This volume is an attempt to compress into modest compass the information which we believe to be most frequently sought. We have tried to be comprehensive with events, with institutions (both civil and ecclesiastical) and with titles and offices. But beyond that, selection was necessary. To cover even all the Scottish castles and towers (numbering probably some 2000) and the old parish churches (numbering about 1000) would have taken far too much space and would have made the book look like a gazetteer. So far as biographical notices are concerned, there would be hardly any limits at all. It was also impossible to do justice to all the commercial and industrial undertakings. The reasons for the selection we have made may not always be at once apparent, for no doubt every individual has his own views as to the questions to which enquirers are most likely to want answers.

Italics have been used to indicate names or terms which are more fully explained in another entry and are in effect the equivalent of '(q.v.)'. The sign x between dates indicates 'not earlier than…and not later than…', e.g. 1153 x 1165 indicates 'not earlier than 1153 and not later than 1165'.

Non-Scottish readers should perhaps be reminded that references to 'King', 'Parliament', 'Privy Council' and so forth are to the Scottish institutions of those names and that sums of money, unless otherwise stated, are in Scots currency.

Gordon Donaldson.

Robert S. Morpeth.

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