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A History of the Native Woodlands of Scotland, 1500-1920$
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T.C. Smout and Alan R. MacDonald

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780748612413

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748612413.001.0001

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The extent and character of the woods before 1500

The extent and character of the woods before 1500

(p.20) Chapter 2 The extent and character of the woods before 1500
A History of the Native Woodlands of Scotland, 1500-1920

T. C. Smout

Alan R. MacDonald

Fiona Watson

Edinburgh University Press

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

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