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A History of the Native Woodlands of Scotland, 1500-1920

T. C. Smout, Alan R. MacDonald, Fiona Watson


The first modern history of Scottish woodlands explores the changing relationship between trees and people from the time of Scotland's first settlement, focusing on the period 1500 to 1920. Drawing on work in natural science, geography and history, as well as on the authors' own research, it presents an accessible and readable account that balances social, economic and environmental factors. Two opening chapters describe the early history of the woodlands. The book is then divided into chapters that consider traditional uses and management, the impact of outsiders on the pine woods and the oakwoods in the first phase of exploitation, and the effect of industrialisation. Separate chapters are devoted to case studies of management at Strathcarron, Glenorchy, Rothiemurchus and on Skye.


Acknowledgements vii
List of Black and White Maps x
List of Black and White Figures xi
List of Colour Plates xiii
List of Tables xiv
1 Introduction 1
2 The Extent and Character of the Woods Before 1500 27
3 The Extent and Character of the Woods, 1500-1920 62
4 Woodland Produce 97
5 Woodland as Pasture and Shelter 129
6 Trading and Taking Wood Before 1800 159
7 Managing the Woods Before 1770 203
8 Outsiders and the Woods I: The Pinewoods 247
9 Outsiders and the Woods II: Charcoal and Tanbark 290
10 Woodland Management in an Industrial Economy, 1830-1920
and Beyond 333
11 Rothiemurchus, 1650-1900 377
12 The Navy, Holyrood and Strathcarron in the Seventeenth Century 420
13 The Irish and Glenorchy, 1721-1740 449
14 The MacDonald Woods on Skye, 1720-1920 481
15 Conclusion 514
Bibliography 536
Index 000.

About the Author

T. C. Smout is Historiographer Royal in Scotland.

Alan MacDonald is a senior lecturer in History at the University of Dundee, with a particular interest in the history of early modern Scotland, especially the history of the church and of parliament.

Fiona Watson is Senior Lecturer in History, University of Stirling.


[Tells] the more fundamental story of trees and woods in our history, in great detail, but always with a firm sense of narrative. It is a tribute not only to the authors' multidisciplinary talents but also to the renaissance of woodland studies north of the border."
An authoritative, readable and attractively illustrated book… it is likely to be a much cited, definitive work for a long time to come.
An excellent combination of detailed case studies and more general reviews… a particular strength of the book is that it does not deal with these industries in isolation, but shows how the management, felling and regeneration of trees and woodlands was intricately connected with grazing… The careful analysis by the authors of a wide range of sources is exemplary and the results are of great interest and value. Edinburgh University Press should be congratulated for the high production quality, including excellent colour plates, historical photographs, and maps and diagrams. This important book should be required reading for all interested in the economic and environmental history of the woodlands."
This book is a superb blend of social history, economic history and environmental history.
- Robert A. Lambert, Journal of Scottish Historical Studies
This well-produced book… has been a great pleasure for me to read and, indeed, I wish it had been written years ago so I could have recommended it during my course on Quaternary paleoecology… Every one of the colour plates is appropriate and attractive.…I stress again my admiration of this book."
- James H Dickson