A NEW book about the history of Montrose and district was launched officially at a packed Montrose Museum last week.
‘Vikings to Victorians - Eyewitnesses to Montrose History’ features contemporary accounts of life in the town over the centuries written by inhabitants at the time as well as recounting the fortunes of Montrosians further afield, both at home and abroad.
From the Danish invasions of the 940s to the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, the book covers almost 1,000 years of Montrose and its people and there are quotations from chronicles, diaries, travelogues, letters, obituaries, poems, newspapers, magazines, court and church records and more.
Many incidents, both well-known and unfamiliar, are recounted and relate how the town’s inhabitants used live, comparing their lives with Montrosians today.
Events related in the book include the return to Scotland of William Wallace in 1302, landing at Montrose after exile, what it was like to live in Montrose in the aftermath of the plague of 1644 or during the occupation of the staunchly Jacobite town by the Duke of Cumberland’s Royalist army in 1745, just a few months before the battle of Culloden.
Published by the Montrose Basin Heritage Society with support from Angus Council’s community grant scheme, the book was launched on Tuesday by Professor Christopher Whatley from Dundee University.
During his speech, Professor Whatley touched on the quality of Montrose records and linked topics in the book to current political hot potatoes such as the Independence debate, as Montrose was the only burgh that supported unity in 1707 when the Scottish and English Parliaments were united.
He also particularly mentioned that local history matters, as it is the foundation of national history.
The book touches on the day to day to the extreme ranging over invasion, the risks of war, beer taxes, insanity, child labour, slavery, whaling, tobacco, vandalism, adultery, crime, alcoholism, gun running, medicine, sorcery, shopping over the years and so much more.
As Professor Whatley said: “This book should be read and enjoyed not just in Scotland but throughout the rest of Scotland.”
The book has already drawn praise from Rosemary Goring, author of ‘Scotland: The Autobiography’, who said: “Anyone with an interest in the town and burgh will find it absorbing. They will also no doubt be grateful not to be living in times past, interesting though they clearly were.’
It is the society’s third book about the history of the area around Montrose Basin, Ebb & Flow: Aspects of the history of Montrose Basin being published in 2004 and Flowing Past: More Montrose Basin History appearing in 2008.
‘Vikings to Victorians’, which costs £8.99, is available from the Montrose Basin Heritage Society at www.montrosebasinheritage.org.uk or from local retailers.