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Top 5 Books about Scottish history as chosen by Andy Burnham

Fairies, kelpies, selkies and of course forgotten battles and ancient history – your go to guide to Scottish history books

A History Of Scotland
Neil Oliver

Neil Oliver ‘from off the TV’ writes in an informal style, looking at ancient history, forgotten battles, debunking myths and covering more recent social history such as politics and patriotism, religious infighting and class exploitation.

A History of Scotland’s Landscapes
Fiona Watson and Piers Dixon

In the style of a coffee table book with well-written entries on historical and archaeological topics. Fiona Watson’s Scotland from Pre-History to the Present (2003) is worth a look.

Scotland The Best 100 Places
Peter Irvine    

Not really a history book but this is a great best-of book, with wonderful photos of Peter’s favourite places. Plenty of historical places are featured, such as Rosslyn Chapel and – tragically – Glasgow School of Art.

Scotland: The Autobiography – 2,000 Years of Scottish History by Those Who Saw It Happen
Rosemary Goring  

Very different from most history books, this is compiled from the first-hand accounts of various writers through the ages, including some wonderful poems. It doesn’t provide background, though, so you do need some prior knowledge of the periods to fully appreciate what’s going on.

An Illustrated Treasury of Scottish Folk and Fairy Tales
Theresa Breslin, illustrated by Kate Leiper

Written for children but appreciated by everyone, these stories include fairies, kelpies, selkies and all manner of mythic beasts with beautiful illustrations.

The Old Stones: A Field Guide to the Megalithic Sites of Britain and Ireland edited by Andy Burnham is published on September 20 (Watkins, £29.99)