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A History of Scotland's Landscapes

Fiona Watson with Piers Dixon


It is easy to overlook how much of our history is preserved all around us – the way the narrative of bygone days has been inscribed in fields, forests, hills and mountains, roads, railways, canals, lochs, buildings and settlements. Indeed, footprints of the past are to be found almost everywhere. The shapes of fields may reveal the brief presence of the Romans or the labours of medieval peasants; while great heaps of abandoned spoil or the remains of gargantuan holes in the ground mark the rapid decline of heavy industry in the recent past.  

These evocative spaces provide unique evidence for the way this land and its wealth of resources has been lived in, worked on, ruined, abandoned, restored and celebrated – offering valuable clues that bring the past to life far more effectively than any written history.

A History of Scotland’s Landscapes explores the many ways that we have used, adapted and altered our environment over thousands of years. Full of maps, photographs and drawings, it offers a remarkable new perspective on Scotland – a unique guide to tracing memories, events and meanings in the forms and patterns of our surroundings.



Fiona Watson is a medieval historian and writer, and former Director of the Centre for Environmental History at the Universities of Stirling and St Andrews. She is author of the history books Scotland from Prehistory to the Present, Under the Hammer: Edward I and ScotlandMacbeth: A True Story and Robert the Bruce, and was presenter of In Search of Scotland, a BBC TV series on Scottish history.

Piers Dixon is an HES archaeologist with over thirty years of experience researching, investigating, recording and writing about Scotland’s landscapes.



'Some books are simply enjoyable. Others are a joy. A History of Scotland's Landscapes is both. There's something about a large, beautifully-produced and magnificently-illustrated book that brings out the inner five-year-old in all of us: the sense of "wow" as you first open the book and leaf through, simply soaking in the pictures and the scale of the authors' achievement . . . An outstanding book likely to be of immense value to anyone who takes an interest in the landscapes we see around us in Scotland.' Undiscovered Scotland

'This interesting and informative history will be treasured . . . I look forward to approaching future walks with a renewed understanding of the forces that shaped our towns and countryside, and the people who lived and worked here before us.' Herald

'no Scottish coffee table is complete without this beautifully presented book . . . an enjoyable, colourful read.' Scottish Field

Longlisted for the Highland Book Prize



ISBN 9781902419930

Publication: 8 March 2018


279 x 216mm

Published by:
Historic Environment Scotland

Price: £30.00

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