Collins Encyclopaedia of Scotland

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9780002550826: Collins Encyclopaedia of Scotland

Some 3500 entries, totalling 750,000 words written by John and Julia Keay and nearly 150 expert contributors (including public figures such as Lord Home, David Steel and Fitzroy MacLean and a host of academics), describe all the main topographical, historical, social, architectural and industrial features of Scotland from A-Z. In addition, the book includes biographical entries on eminent Scots men and women of the past.

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From Booklist:

In this volume prepared in the U.K. there is no entry for Scot, Scotland, Scots (except for Scots Guards), or Scotch (which, however, is described thoroughly under Whisky, with a clear distinction between Scottish whisky and Irish whiskey). Some broad entries are found, such as Agriculture, Climate, Geology, Law, and Population, but none for art, commerce, communications, medicine, transportation (though there is one on railways), or for schools and universities. There are no entries for food, except Haggis. Pronunciation, which would be useful for an American audience, is seldom given. For example, no pronunciation is provided for Glamis (usually pronounced "Glahmz" ), nor for Berwick ("Berrik" ). There are no entries under such words as Ben (Mount), Firth (Bay), and Loch, which precludes an entry under L for the Loch Ness Monster, who is listed under Nessie. Ben Nevis, Loch Lomond, etc., are found under the second word.

Despite these editorial peculiarities, the volume contains a wealth of information about Scottish history, famous Scots of the past, and interesting castles, cathedrals, and forts, as well as golf, football, horseracing, and the wearing of tartans. About 500 black-and-white illustrations accompany nearly 4,000 entries. Biographical and topographical entries predominate, but the longest are for major cities. The entry Glasgow has more than 36 pages, and Edinburgh, about 65. There are about 120 contributors to the work, so some minor discrepancies are bound to occur. The article St. Margaret states that she built a chapel for herself on Edinburgh's Castle Rock, but elsewhere it is stated that it was not built until after her death.

The work does a good job of providing information about Scottish people, places, history, and way of life, past and present. The reader should be warned that the editorial policy is for specific entries rather than generalized ones, and that the index is useful for cross-referencing. With this proviso, the work is recommended.

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