Where do I start with Scotland’s Bloody History?
The arrival of prehistoric man in the Highlands was probably the only time there has not been conflict and bloodshed of some description in our colourful history. Even that would not have lasted long, of course.
There is also a real problem in researching our history as everyone seems to have a different take on each of the characters. If an historian writes about one of our early kings you get an entirely different slant than from an author with, say, a military background. Historians tend to take facts and build a characterisation and scenario around them, someone with a more military background will look at the overall events and analyse how they would have occurred and what strategy would have taken place in the real world. Both may be close to the mark but, if names were changed, the reader may not even be able to recognise that the two events were supposed to be the same. The life and times of our great King Macbeth is a prime example of how an English playwright destroyed the reputation of a fine Scottish monarch. A 2006 documentary on William Wallace shows how historians without sufficient knowledge of military techniques and strategies could misunderstand the famous battle of Stirling Bridge. Of course Hollywood was even further from the mark, calling it the battle of Stirling and having the Scots win by raising their kilts and frightening the English to death. Perhaps that may have worked, but it is not what actually happened. Great cinema though.
What I have done in this book is to take the most violent and bloody interpretation of events from various sources and tried to provide a good general understanding and overview of our history. I have tried to be accurate, but new information comes to light and revised interpretation is always being made by historians and archaeologists. Readers wanting an in-depth understanding of the events I describe should use this publication only as the inspiration to read more extensively,
I should also say that all of this is written from the Scottish perspective. Although born in England, the greater proportion of my genes come from Scotland, the rest from England and a tiny fraction from Ireland, but I have now lived in Scotland for thirty years and have grown to love the country, its people and its history and so it is from that perspective that I present these stories.
My background in Scotland has been in popularising history, natural history and folklore. I hope you find the following journey through time amusing, fascinating and, hopefully, sometimes chilling.
Tony Harmsworth November 2007