Scottish Battles From Mons Graupius to Culloden by John Sadler. Published by Canongate Books Ltd., 14 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1TE. 1996. Index, maps. Paperback. £9.99.

The history of Scotland can be said to have been shaped by its battles. Many of the battles and justly famous: Bannockburn, Otterburn, Flodden, Glencoe and Culloden. In reading this book I was fascinated by the details: the Celts and their chariots as they fought against the Romans; the discussion on 17th century battle tactics; the context for each of the many battles fought on Scottish soil. At other times I found the text did not keep my attention and I got lost in some of the battles, not always following who was fighting for whom.

The maps of the individual battles are good, usually indicating the individual units present and naming their commanding officers. However, the arrangement of the units or the direction of attack do not always match those found in other resources. For example, at Killiecrankie in 1689 the direction of attack is different from that described in Battlefields of Britain by David Smurthwaite and so as good researchers the facts will needs to be verified from other sources if your ancestors fought in these battles.

There are some things lacking in the book. There is no map of Scotland showing the location of the battlefields mentioned in the text. When the armies are active, as when the Marquis of Montrose was leading his Covenanting army all over Scotland a map providing an overview of his route would have been helpful. I know Scotland, having been born just south of the Scottish border, and I still had trouble following the army's movement. Overview maps would be especially helpful for North American readers.

For those interested in Scottish military history this is a good read, but the conflicts with other books left me wondering which was correct. Additional maps would have helped.

Reviewed by Paul Milner
BIGWILL v.5 no.2, 1998