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I found this book to be both interesting and boring in places . It tells the story of the land we know as Scotland before it became Scotland. The narrative begins 10,000 years ago and continues up until AD900 when the last of the native British kingdoms in the north were effaced. The fact that I can even write that last sentence shows how much I learnt from this book. Before reading it I had wrongly thought that the Gaelic speaking Scots were the original inhabitants of Scotland and the English their bitter enemies. Turns out that Gaelic speaking Scots are just a different branch of English invaders. The original inhabitants of the land before Scotland were British people, named so because they lived in Pretannike which translated as Land of the Painted People (they tattooed themselves). The Romans mangled this into Britannica which in turn became Britain. The Pretannikai spoke a Celtic language closely related to Welsh. I also learnt a lot about the Picts who I had heard of but knew absolutely nothing about. Its a shame we know so little about them. Some of the carved stones they have left behind are beautiful and very mysterious.I enjoyed the earlier chapters of the book the most. These were set in the most distant past and explained all the geologic and climatic changes that helped shape the land and frame the way of life of the inhabitants of that land. And I learned of the existence of Doggerland which I had never heard of before.The middle chapters bored me a bit with their descriptions of Roman battles as Ive never been interested in warfare. It was interesting to learn a bit more about Hadrians Wall and the Antonine Wall. It was also interesting to see that the divisions between lowland and highland inhabitants seemed to exist even back then with the lowlanders collaborating most shamelessly with their Roman oppressors.So all in all it was mostly an interesting read but it could probably have been a third less long and been even better!

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