Collins Encyclopaedia of Scotland

Collins Encyclopaedia of Scotland is a reference work published by Harper Collins, edited by the husband and wife team, John and Julia Keay.


Scots had provided the impetus for a number of well-known references works, Chambers Dictionary and Encyclopædia Britannica[1][2] amongst them (the latter still uses a Scottish thistle as a logo), but hitherto there had been no general purpose Scottish encyclopaedia.


The encyclopaedia took seven years to compile and has appeared in two editions. The first edition, published in 1994, contained about a million words, nearly five hundred illustrations, and had 126 contributors, ranging from Derick Thomson to David Steel, from Alan Bold to Neil MacCormick and from Joy Hendry to Sir William Macpherson of Cluny. It has four thousand individual entries, and an index indicating further references in other articles.[3]


In the original edition, the first entry is Aaron Scotus, and the last on the marquisate of Zetland (the only Z entry).

The aim seems to have been to have reasonably brief entries on most topics, but subjects that get lengthier ones, include Scotland's major cities (including the traditional city of Perth), association football and rugby in Scotland, the Scottish Gaelic language, Scots law etc. A wide variety of topics are dealt with, including figures from science, literature, philosophy, sport and history.

Less "obvious" topics which have entries include the Roman general Agricola (who tried to invade Scotland), the hooded crow, Berwick-upon-Tweed (which has a stormy past, lying right on the Anglo-Scottish Border) and medicinal plants.

Several appendices cover the schisms (and mergers) of Scottish Presbyterian factions from 1700 to the date of publication, and also the Scottish royal line.

Second edition

The second edition in 2000 contained over a hundred new articles,[4] amongst them, ones on Billy Bremner the footballer, Dolly the Sheep, the Scottish Parliament and the politician John Smith.


  • Most of the above information is taken from the first edition of Collins Encyclopaedia of Scotland
  1. Scotland and the ultimate reference book at the Wayback Machine (archived May 16, 2007), history of the Britannica on The Scotsman's Heritage and Culture pages.
  2. Herman, Arthur (2002). How the Scots Invented the Modern World. Three Rivers Press. ISBN 978-0-609-80999-0.
  3. Webster, Jack (26 September 1994) "Couple with the last word on Scotland's story". Glasgow. The Herald. Retrieved 17 October 2013.
  4. Ascherson, Neal (10 December 2000) "Picts and stones". London. The Observer. Retrieved 17 October 2013.

See also

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