Chapter

The extent and character of the woods before 1500

T. C. Smout, Alan R. MacDonald and Fiona Watson

in A History of the Native Woodlands of Scotland, 1500-1920

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print November 2004 | ISBN: 9780748612413
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653331 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748612413.003.0002
The extent and character of the woods before 1500

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This chapter discusses the extent and character of the Scottish woods before 1500. The notion of an ancient Great Wood of Caledon that in Roman times covered most of Scotland, or at least the whole of the Highlands, runs ineradicably deep in the Scottish mind. The story is based partly on the positioning of ‘Caledonia Silva’ in Ptolemy's second-century ad geographical account, available on printed maps in western Europe from 1475. Ptolemy's account was in turn based on information supplied by the Roman invaders and also written up by Tacitus, Dio, and other historians of their inconclusive campaigns, and recent critical commentary has shown how extremely vague the authors of antiquity were about the location of the Caledonian Wood or woods.

Keywords: Caledonian Wood; Ptolemy; Renaissance; Roman invaders; Tacitus; Dio

Chapter.  10764 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Regional and Area Studies

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