Book Review: Scotland Defending the Nation – Mapping the Military Landscape

 

Scotland Defending the Nation: Mapping the Military Landscape - Scotland Mapping - Maps of Scotland
Scotland Defending the Nation: Mapping the Military Landscape by Carolyn Anderson and Christopher Fleet

Scotland Defending the Nation: Mapping the Military Landscape. By Carolyn Anderson and Christopher Fleet. Published in association with the National Library of Scotland by Birlinn Ltd. West Newington House, 10 Newington Road, Edinburgh, EH9 1QS. www.birlinn.co.uk. £30.00. US Distributor: Casemate Publishers 1950 Lawrence Road, Havertown PA 19083. www.casematepublishers.com. $44.95. 2018. 244 pp. Color Illustrations, index. Hardcover.

Warfare, attack and defense, has shaped Scotland’s history over the last six centuries. From the fifteenth to the seventeenth century, a prevailing ideology of English overlordship of Scotland created: real threats and invasions through the Wars of the Rough Wooing in the 1540s; persistent violence on the debatable Scottish borderlands; and the Jacobite uprisings, which in 1745 came close to toppling the British throne. These events led to a huge militarization of Scotland with new defenses, forts and roads, and armies clashing in battle. Some of these defenses were put to new uses by the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, to counter the very real worries over French invasion, especially on the east coast. By the twentieth century, defenses and enemy threats had shifted focus again, with German seaborne and airborne attacks, particularly during the Second World War. This was followed by new fears over Russian military predominance.

The book uses six centuries of Scottish military mapping to tell this story.  It explains military maps produced for different purposes: fortification plans, reconnaissance mapping, battle plans, military roads and route ways, tactical maps, enemy maps showing targets, as well as plans showing the construction of defenses. Many of the military engineers were from overseas, especially the early ones who drafted maps, and the author makes comparisons with early European maps and structures. The book does address, with individual chapters, the big names in Scottish military mapping and their impact – George Wade and William Roy. All these engineers and map makers, European and Scotsmen alike, left a legacy in maps and fortifications. Sometimes the paper military landscape is different from reality, showing what was proposed rather than implemented. The maps themselves, all in color, are striking and attractive, selected for the stories they tell.  

The main text tells the story of the history of military mapping in Scotland. However, the maps that appear on almost every page have extensive detailed captions which often tell their own story. Thus, researchers will not only get the big picture by reading the full text, but also through specific information about a period or event from a particular map

For those who want to learn more, the book includes an extensive annotated guide to sources and further reading, arranged by the seven chapters in the book. It is an excellent addition, with very limited overlap, to the other two books in the series – Scotland: Mapping the Nation and Scotland: Mapping the Islands – reviewed here.

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