Who Built Scotland

A History of the Nation in Twenty-Five Buildings

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

Format: Multiple Formats

In Who Built Scotland, the authors pick 25 buildings to tell the history of a nation. In vivid travelogues, they explore Scotland's social, political and cultural heritage, placing our people, ideas and passions at the heart of our architecture and archaeology. This is a story of how we shape buildings and how buildings, in turn, shape us.

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Historic Environment Scotland

Historic Environment Scotland is a lead public body established to investigate, care for and promote Scotland's historic environment. They take on the responsibilities of Historic Scotland and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments, which has been managing and recording the historic environment for more than a century. Their books deliver wonderfully illustrated and immaculately researched titles to anyone with an interest in Scotland's history and heritage.

Product Description


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 shieling 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.

Additional Information

Additional Information

Format Multiple Formats
Imprint Historic Environment Scotland
Publication Date 14 Sep 2017
SKU 9781849172240-grouped
Number of Pages 336

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Press Reviews

'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'

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

'the history is skilfully woven throughout the course of the book in a way that is intriguing and easy to follow . . . It really reads as an epic love story to Scotland'

'A fascinating alternative take on the country's social, political and cultural histories . . . While the buildings are the focus of this book, the stories of the people who built them and use them are what really stay in the mind. It's easy to think of buildings as inanimate but this book demonstrates the life behind them.' - 5 star review. 

''The result is a book that is by turns inspiring and fascinating; a book that gives perspective to Scotland's many and varied architectural traditions; and a book that gives context to the Scotland we see around us today . . . There's one sense in which the title of the book is misleading in that you find rather more than 25 buildings between its covers. Some contributions cover themes or groups of buildings rather than individual structures. The effect is to broaden further the scope of the book and adds to its already considerable lasting value.'

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