Book Reviews


Recommended Sources for Pictish History

Recommended Books for Various Time Periods

Sources to Avoid

Other Books

The Library

The Main Hall



The links associated with each review will take to you if the title is currently available. If Amazon or your local bookseller does not have the title you are looking for, please contact me privately and I will attempt to assist you.




Recommended Sources for Pictish History


Early Christian Monuments of Scotland

J Romilly Allen and Joseph Anderson

This text is the "Bible" of Pictish Studies. First published in 1903, it was an important compilation of information about the Picts known at that time. Unlike many books of the period, it has weathered the years well, still being an important text in the field and the three class system proposed by Allen and Anderson is still used to categorize Pictish Stones today. The book includes many drawings and photographs, in some cases showing details on stones that are now invisable due to wear or erosion. Originally only 400 copies were printed so it was a very rare book for many years until it was reprinted in 1993. The reprint was published in two volumes by the Pinkfoot Press, making it somewhat more user friendly and infinitely more available. It still can be tricky to find, but is worth every penny when found. You usually will have to order it from a UK bookseller, but you can try looking stateside as well.



Martin Carver

A preliminary report on one of the most extensive modern digs at a Pictish site, this book is highly recommended. Dr. Carver and his staff excavated St Coleman's Church and the surrounding area in Portmahomack, a small seaside town very close by to Hilton of Cadboll, Nigg, Shandwick, and sites of other well-known Pictish stones. What they uncovered there was a treasure trove of information about the monastery and workshops that flourished there during the Pictish period. Finds include stone monuments, evidence for the manufacture of vellum, metalworking, and more.

For further information, please also see the Tarbat dig reports.




Art of the Picts

George and Isabel Henderson

Two of the most respected scholars on the Picts compiled this wonderful overview of Pictish art, drawing in examples from stone sculpture as well as metalwork and small finds. The text can be dense, but the book is richly illustrated. Highly recommended, especially for visual learners or for those who cannot visit the stones themselves, but would like high quality images to study.



The Work of Angels  -

Masterpieces of Celtic Metalwork, 6th-9th centuries AD

Susan Youngs

Frequently out of print and unavailable, this is a book to snap up if you find it at a reasonable price. It covers Pictish, Irish, and Scottish metalwork and is a researcher's dream - in addition to basic background information about pieces (culture, period, findspot, etc), the book includes wonderful details like component materials, exact dimensions, weights, and citations of publications that further discuss the individual pieces! There are ample color illustrations in addition to the many black and white photographs, making this a wonderful book to display as well as to use for research purposes.





Recommended Sources for Various Time Periods


Tudor Tailor

Ninya Mikhaila

If you are interested in Tudor or Elizabethan costuming, this book is a must. The authors have carefully researched the costumes presented and have done a beautiful job of demonstrating period construction techniques. To scale gridded patterns are included that can be blown up to life size using a photocopier, projector, or by hand on similarly gridded paper.



Moda a Firenze 1540-1580

Roberta Orsi Landini

Exellent costuming book, focusing on Italy in the latter half of the 16th century, particularly on Eleanor de Toledo and her court, but including other fashions on occasion. Less practical than the Tudor Tailor, this book is still an excellent resource. What it lacks in pre-drafted patterns, it easily makes up for in gorgeous, plentiful color illustrations. Of particular interest are the pages that compare and contrast the development of costume details (such as shoulder caps or hairstyles) through the four decades that the book focuses on. Just a splendid resource.


Patterns of Fashion 4 -

The cut and construction of linen shirts, smocks, neckwear, headwear, and accessories for men and women, 1540-1660

Janet Arnold

One of thegreat costume researchers speaks from beyond the grave! Janet Arnold had completed much of the work on this book before her death, but it took some time for the book to actually be finished and brought to market. I am most eagerly anticipating my own copy shortly after its publication on Nov 8th!



Sources to Avoid


Medieval Costume and Fashion, Tudor Costume and Fashion,

Ancient European Costume and Fashion, etc..

Herbert Norris

All I can say is - DON'T! For the love of all that's holy, don't do it. Norris routinely gets things wrong and makes things up. Yes, the Norris books are "cheap," but save yourself the heartache and pain and get one of the above recommended texts. Trust me, it will be more than worth it.




Other Books


The Pictish Child

Jane Yolen

A popular fiction book aimed at young kids, The Pictish Child is amusing, but gets almost everything about the Picts wrong. Don't give to a child actually interested in Pictish history, but good for a quick read and a giggle.