The Borders by Alistair MoffatSep 22nd, 2010 | By admin | Category: Book Reviews
This is the story of the border: a place of beginnings and endings, of differences and similarities. It is the story of England and Scotland, told not from the remoteness of London or Edinburgh or in the tired terms of national histories, but up close and personal, toe to toe and eyeball to eyeball across the tweed, the Cheviots, the Esk and the tidal races of the upper Solway. This is a tale told in blood, fun and granite-hard memory. This is the story of an ancient place; where hunter-gatherers penetrated into the virgin interior, where Celtic warlords ruled, the Romans came but could not conquer, where the glittering kingdom of Northumbria thrived, the place where David MacMalcolm raised great abbeys, where the border rivers rode into history, and where Walter Scott sat at Abbotsford and brooded on the area’s rich and historic legacy.
There’s more information in each chapter than you’d find in most books.
The author has taken the hard option by giving a thorough treatment that includes poorly documeted periods of British history, such as pre-Roman times and the “Dark” ages. I learned all sorts about pre-historic Britain and Celtic kingdoms.
The focus is on the lives of ordinary people in the borders, but the book is so complete that it gives you a good overview of political events in Scotland & England that affected the Borders. The final chapter, which describes 20th Century border history largely through quotes from those who lived through it, could be considered a classic source by itself.
The info is very well organised so although it comes thick and fast it is never confusing.
The only question left unanswered is where the author found the time to put it together!