From Caledonia to Pictland: Scotland to 795

From Caledonia to Pictland: Scotland to 795

From Caledonia to Pictland: Scotland to 795

From Caledonia to Pictland: Scotland to 795

Synopsis

From Caledonia to Pictland examines the transformation of Iron Age northern Britain into a land of Christian kingdoms, long before 'Scotland' came into existence. Perched at the edge of the western Roman Empire, northern Britain was not unaffected by the experience, and became swept up in the great tide of processes which gave rise to the early medieval West. Like other places, the country experienced social and ethnic metamorphoses, Christianisation, and colonization by dislocated outsiders, but northern Britain also has its own unique story to tell in the first eight centuries AD. This book is the first detailed political history to treat these centuries as a single period, with due regard for Scotland's position in the bigger story of late Antique transition. From Caledonia to Pictland charts the complex and shadowy processes which saw the familiar Picts, Northumbrians, North Britons and Gaels of early Scottish history become established in the country, the achievements of their foremost political figures, and their ongoing links with the world around them. It is a story that has become much revised through changing trends in scholarly approaches to the challenging evidence, and that transformation too is explained for the benefit of students and general readers. Key Features:
• The only detailed political history to treat the first eight centuries AD as a single period of Scottish history.
• Redresses the imbalance created by an existing literature dominated by archaeologists. From Caledonia to Pictland provides a narrative history of the period.
• Bridges a traditional disciplinary divide between the Roman and early medieval periods.
• Locates this phase of Scotland's history within a European context, emphasising what is unique and what is not.

Excerpt

The purpose of the New Edinburgh History of Scotland is to provide upto-date and accessible narrative accounts of the Scottish past. Its authors will make full use of the explosion of scholarly research that has taken place over the last three decades, and do so in a way that is sensitive to Scotland’s regional diversity as well as to the British, European and transoceanic worlds of which Scotland has always been an integral part.

Chronology is fundamental to understanding change over time and Scotland’s political development will provide the backbone of the narrative and the focus of analysis and explanation. The New Edinburgh History will tell the story of Scotland as a political entity, but will be sensitive to broader social, cultural and religious change and informed by a richly textured understanding of the totality and diversity of the Scots’ historical experience. Yet to talk of the Scots – or the Scottish nation – is often misleading. Local loyalty and regional diversity have more frequently characterised Scotland than any perceived sense of ‘national’ solidarity. Scottish identity has seldom been focused primarily, let alone exclusively, on the ‘nation’. The modern discourse of nationhood offers what is often an inadequate and inappropriate vocabulary in which to couch Scotland’s history. The authors in this series will show that there are other and more revealing ways of capturing the distinctiveness of Scottish experience.

It is fitting enough that the first volume in this series, dealing with the very earliest peoples who inhabited what was to become Scotland, should be graced on its cover by an image of Caledonia. Taken from William Hole’s famous frieze in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, the dominant figure of Caledonia is portrayed drawing back the curtain on the Scottish past, illuminating the grand processional pageant that unfolds round the walls of the gallery’s ornate entrance hall. What follows in this . . .

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