books at trinity house

Our suggestions

Andrew Burnet, Content Editor & Standards Manager: My predecessor in this job left me a copy of Scotland: A Concise History (1996) by James Halliday, which tells the whole story in 150 pages.

I enjoy finding the original sources where possible, partly because it brings us closer to the heart of the story, and partly because of the wonderful idiosyncrasies of writing style. John Knox’s History of the Reformation in Scotland (1586–7) is superb. Knox is a biased narrator, of course, but like Julius Caesar before him he talks up his enemies, and his prose is amazingly lively and vivid.

A statue of John Knox at Dunblane Cathedral

A statue of John Knox at Dunblane Cathedral

Maya Hoole, Data Information Officer: If you’re interested in archaeology (including prehistory and early history), I would point folk towards Scotland: Archaeology and Early History by Graham and Anna Ritchie.  It’s a perfect introduction to the subject: it is clear, concise and has excellent accompanying illustrations.

Sabine Kurz, Digital Content Officer: Even though it’s written for children, there’s nothing better to get a quick overview of Scottish history than Horrible Histories: Scotland by Terry Deary.

Ali George, Communications Officer: One of my favourites is The Ghost O’ Mause by Maurice Fleming, which is a collection of folk tales about East Perthshire.

Georgina Ritchie, Assistant Cultural Resources Advisor: I think Neil Oliver’s A History of Scotland is a good basic overview and is quite easy to digest.

Neil Oliver filming at Dunfermline Abbey

Neil Oliver filming at Dunfermline Abbey

Sally Gall, Interpretation Assistant: I love Isobel Grant’s Highland Folkways – it gives a fantastically in-depth view of Highland customs, crafts and culture, detailing everything from traditions, clothes and furniture, to agricultural techniques. I also constantly turn to Rosalind Marshall’s Scottish Queens, for a personal and engaging view of Scotland’s royal history.

Books written by us

Some of our very own history books that are available in our online shop:

Mary Was Here: From her ascent to the throne at just six days old, to her death on the order of Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots’ story is recounted in this accessible, fast-paced guide. Mary Was Here tells the tale of Mary’s life – charting her travels across Scotland as she grows into a renowned beauty, subdues a rebellion, and flees for her life.

The cover of Mary Was Here

The Picts: For centuries, the Picts dominated Scotland. This comprehensive guide to Pictish life reveals how intelligent and powerful these settlers were. The guide is easy to follow and accessible for younger readers

Clan and Castle: Some of the most powerful dynasties in Scotland’s history came from humble clan beginnings. The more powerful families built the castles that dominate Scotland’s landscape. This book focuses on the stories of seven prominent clans, featuring extensive illustrations and vivid stories.

Your recommendations

And finally…

Image of child reading Ooor Wullie book

You can find many more books and guides in our online shop.


About Author

Donna Laidlaw

Donna works in the Digital Team and looks after our websites, making sure they are kept up-to-date. She's also managed several projects, including the new Edinburgh Castle website.

  • Rachel Taylor

    John Prebble’s Culloden.

  • Hungry Horace

    For my Scottish History course I have been reading Tom Devine’s The Scottish Nation 1700-2007. Great academic book.

  • Hugh Bowman

    I’m a wee bit regionally biased; my favourite is “Historical and genealogical account of the principal families of the name of Kennedy”, written sometime in the early 17th century, but not published until 1830 by Robert Pitcairn. A highly biased, but vivid account of Carrick feuds, it was probably written by one John Mure, laird of Auchindrayne, who was involved in the plots & later hung for murder. Copies can be downloaded from the Internet Archive.

    In my opinion it is also a great, though little known, work of Scottish literature.

  • Christian Björn Jacob

    Well, great to have here a starting point. Thank you!
    After I heard about the bad quality or better say the source Neil Oliver (BBC) History of Scotland is really worse. Someone told me it is more for entertainment not a good choice for a clean and neutral overview of the Scottish History.
    Therefore I`m looking for a book / DVD about the Scottish history which is deep enough to understand Scotland but not so deep to be a professor.