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Who Built Scotland (hardback)

A History of the Nation in Twenty-Five Buildings

Kathleen Jamie, Alistair Moffat, Alexander McCall Smith, James Robertson, James Crawford


Experience a new history of Scotland told through its places. Writers Kathleen Jamie, Alexander McCall Smith, Alistair Moffat, James Robertson and James Crawford pick twenty-five buildings to tell the story of the nation.

Travelling across the country, from abandoned islands and lonely glens to the heart of our modern cities, these five authors seek out the diverse narrative of the Scottish people. Follow Kathleen Jamie as she searches for the traces of our first family hearths in the Cairngorms and makes a midsummer journey to Shetland to meet the unlikely new inhabitants of an Iron Age broch. Tour the wondrous and macabre Surgeons’ Hall with Alexander McCall Smith, or walk with him over sacred ground to Iona’s ancient Abbey. Join Alistair Moffat as he discovers a lost whisky village in the wilds of Strathconon, and climbs up through the vertiginous layers of history in Edinburgh Castle. Accompany James Robertson as he goes from the standing stones of Callanish to the humble cottage of Hugh MacDiarmid – via the engineering colossus of the Forth Rail Bridge. And journey with James Crawford from a packed crowd in Hampden Park, to an off-the-grid eco-bothy on the Isle of Eigg.

Who Built Scotland is a landmark exploration of Scotland’s social, political and cultural histories. Moving from Neolithic families, exiled hermits and ambitious royal dynasties to highland sheiling girls, peasant poets, Enlightenment philosophers and iconoclastic artists, it places our people, our ideas and our passions at the heart of our architecture and archaeology. This is the remarkable story how we have shaped our buildings and how our buildings, in turn, have shaped us.



Alexander McCall Smith is one of the world’s most prolific and popular authors. He has written over 80 books, including the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series and the Scotland Street novels.

Alistair Moffat is an award-winning author of history books, including Scotland: A History from Earliest Times and The Great Tapestry of Scotland, and a former Director of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

James Crawford is Publisher at HES and the author of the Saltire-nominated Fallen Glory: The Lives and Deaths of the World’s Greatest Lost Buildings.

James Robertson is the Booker-longlisted author of highly acclaimed novels including And the Land Lay Still, Joseph Knight and The Testament of Gideon Mack. He is also a publisher of poetry and children’s books in Scots.

Kathleen Jamie is a writer of poetry and non-fiction, including the critically acclaimed essay collections Sightlines and Findings. She was the winner of the Saltire Book of the Year 2016 with The Bonniest Companie and was awarded the 2012 Costa Poetry Prize for The Overhaul.


'The quality of the writing is uniformly high . . . This is a very good book; edifying and, at times, revelatory' The Herald

'The 25 essays are all admirable appreciations of buildings - or of landscapes and places from which buildings have long disappeared. They are written with knowledge and enthusiasm and the photographs are gorgeous . . . [Who Built Scotland] is very enjoyable and rich in information. You would have to be quite exceptionally knowledgeable not to learn much from it, and it certainly paints a fine picture of our strange and varied country and its history' Allan Massie, The Scotsman

'inspiring and fascinating' Undiscovered Scotland



ISBN 9781849172240

Publication: 14 September 2017


234 x 153mm

Published by:
Historic Environment Scotland

Price: £20.00

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