New Book | Classical Caledonia

Posted in books by Editor on April 17, 2021

From Edinburgh UP:

Alan Montgomery, Classical Caledonia: Roman History and Myth in Eighteenth-Century Scotland (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2020), 232 pages, ISBN: 978-1474445641, £75 / $100 (also available in ebook and PDF formats).

Explores early modern interpretations of Roman Scotland
• Examines an important aspect of the development of Scottish identity, a subject being brought to the fore again in recent debates surrounding Scottish independence
• Offers an in-depth study of a largely overlooked aspect of Scottish historiography
• Makes extensive use of archival and manuscript material, much of it previously unpublished
• Takes a broad, multidisciplinary approach
• Examines the influence of the Scottish Enlightenment, James Macpherson’s Ossianic poems, and the rise of Romanticism

This book focuses on early modern attitudes towards Scotland’s ancient past and looks in particular at the ways in which this past was not only misunderstood, but also manipulated in attempts to create a patriotic history for the nation. Adding a new perspective on the formation of Scotland’s national identity, the book documents a century-long, often heated debate regarding the extent of Roman influence north of Hadrian’s Wall. By exploring the lives and writings of antiquarians, poets, and Enlightenment thinkers, it aims to uncover the political, patriotic, and intellectual influences which fuelled this debate. Classical Caledonia casts light on a rarely discussed aspect of Scotland’s historiography, one which played a vital role in establishing early modern notions of ‘Scottishness’ at a time when Scotland was coming to terms with radical and traumatic changes to its position within Britain and the wider world.

Alan Montgomery received his PhD at the Birkbeck, University of London in 2016 and published several papers in key journals, including The Journal of British Identities and The Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. Montgomery was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland in 2019.


1  Imagining a Classical Caledonia: Sir Robert Sibbald’s Vision of Scotland’s Roman Past
2  Walled Out of Humanity: Sir John Clerk and his Circle
3  Resisting the ‘Conquerors of the Universe’: Celebrating the Caledonian Rejection of Rome
4  ‘Beyond the Vallum’: English Interpretations of Scottish History
5  ‘Monuments and Delights of the Arts’: Rediscovering the Material Remains of Rome in Scotland
6  Reconquering the Highlands: Hanoverian Interpretations of Roman Scotland
7  The Age of ‘Agricolamania’: Early Modern Uses and Abuses of Tacitus’ Agricola
8  Forging a Nation: The Spurious Histories of Charles Bertram and James Macpherson
9  After Ossian: Changing Interpretations of Roman Scotland

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