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Warlords and Holy Men: Scotland 80-1000 AD (1984)

by Alfred P. Smyth

Series: New History of Scotland (Vol. 1)

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601334,036 (4)1
Basing his work strongly on documentary and archaeological sources, Alfred Smyth covers traditional topics in a thoroughly unconventional manner. Winner of the 1985 Spring Book Award for Literature (Scottish Arts Council).

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This book won the 1985 Spring Book Award for Literature from the Scottish Arts Council, and one can see why. A wide-ranging, enthusiastic and scholarly work, it covers a great deal of ground with a surprising amount of detail for its size. Although some of the archaeological conclusions have changed in the intervening thirty years, this is still a good introduction to the period and good value for money. Topics include: Roman Britain, the Picts, St. Columba, Adomnan, Vikings, the orgins of medieval Scotland, and the conquest of the southern uplands.

The author shows an impressive ability to look at the larger picture while not losing sight of details, an ability which allows him to combine seeming isolated facts into interesting combinations. Whether or not you agree with all of his conclusions, you will find many that are thought-provoking. An example is his dating of the final collapse of the British kingdom of Rheged by the series of entries in the Irish Annals of Ulster regarding the presence of roving bands of British warriors in Ireland between 682 and 709. ( )
1 vote gwernin | Mar 7, 2008 |
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Basing his work strongly on documentary and archaeological sources, Alfred Smyth covers traditional topics in a thoroughly unconventional manner. Winner of the 1985 Spring Book Award for Literature (Scottish Arts Council).

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