Every year the AHS publishes at least one book. The order form for orders by email can be found below.

For credit card orders, please use the Parish Chest website.  You can also download out-of print publications from our Downloads page

No 57

"Quite Happy" - The Diary of James Fyffe, Cattle Dealer 1836–1840

edited by Jean Dundas and David G. Orr (2016)

James Fyffe’s diaries were found in the Old Parish Kirk in Kirriemuir. Although they only cover a short part of his life, they leave us with a remarkable record of a young Angus farmer and cattle dealer in the nineteenth century, and a rare insight into his passions and beliefs. They were written right at the end of the great era of long-distance droving of livestock which was killed off by the arrival of the railways. Fyffe makes prolific references to the people and places he encountered on his travels from Kirriemuir to the Edinburgh cattle market. Setting out in life with fine ambitions, he was often distracted by the young ladies he was courting and the many neighbours he visited to drink toddy in the evenings. The diaries reveal a solitary, vulnerable man doggedly pursuing a living against the odds. They present a picture that is rural but not rustic and a life that Fyffe himself summed up in one of his favourite phrases – “quite happy!”

This complete transcript of the diaries includes an introduction by David G Orr and contextual essays by Professor Richard Oram (University of Stirling) and Dr Kenneth Baxter (University of Dundee).

ISBN 978-0-9000-19-57-9

GBP 5.00

96 pages, 8 b/w illustrations


No 56

Independent & Individualist - Art in Dundee 1867-1924

Matthew Jarron (2015)

This lavishly illustrated book explores in detail the period when Dundee was recognised as one of the major art centres of Britain. In the late 19th century, the city staged the largest exhibitions of art outside London and hosted some of the most ambitious private art collections in Scotland. Following a significant development in art education, the number of professional artists working in the city increased dramatically. Thanks to the unique talents of John Duncan, Stewart Carmichael, George Dutch Davidson and others, Dundee developed a distinctive new style of art, a fusion of symbolism, decorative art and the Celtic Revival. The city also produced exceptional talents working in landscapes and portraiture, such as David Foggie, Frank Laing and W B Lamond. At the same time, there was a boom in commercial art as Dundee became an important centre for newspaper and magazine illustration.

This is the first time that Dundee’s art culture has been studied in depth, placing the city’s artistic outputs in a social, economic and political context. One London critic described Dundee’s artists as a “fiercely independent and individualist school”, which has often led them to be overlooked by art historians. This book seeks to re-establish the significance of Dundee as “perhaps the most vital centre of art appreciation in Scotland.”

Matthew Jarron is Curator of Museum Services at the University of Dundee and a former Chair of the Scottish Society for Art History. He is the author of several publications linked to exhibitions he has curated, including David Foggie: the Painters’ Painter and A Glimpse of a Great Vision: The D’Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum Art Fund Collection. He has edited or co-edited issues of the Journal of the Scottish Society for Art History, Museum Management & Curatorship and Interdisciplinary Science Reviews and is Secretary of the Abertay Historical Society.

ISBN 978-0-900019-56-2

GBP 12.00 Buy Online

232 pages, 299 colour and b/w illustrations


No 55

"All Their Good Friends and Neighbours": The Story of a Vanished Hamlet in Angus

Catherine Rice (2014)

The hamlet of Burnside of Dun whose story this book tells was once a thriving little community of agricultural labourers and linen hand-loom weavers making a bare living alongside a well-used drove road. Today only its evocative memorial and rickles of stones marking the foundations of the cottages remain, lost in the wooded hills of North Angus and barely remembered. Parish registers, estate papers, church records, private family papers, and 19th century census reports and government commissions of inquiry have been searched to uncover the lives of the families and individuals who lived and worked there: in damp loomsheds, the tattie fields and at the harvest. They flocked to the churches and chapels of the district, drank in the little pub and cared for the surprising number of illegitimate children produced by their daughters. By the end of the 19th century, the disappearance of cattle droving and handloom weaving combined with the drying up of casual farm labouring led to the settlement being abandoned by all but the very old.

Catherine Rice began to investigate the deserted village of Burnside of Dun while teaching History at Montrose Academy in the 1970s, and after working as a local history researcher at the University of Dundee. Moving away from the area and a career change meant the project was abandoned until her retirement in 2009, when a return visit to the site inspired her to take up the work again.

ISBN 978-0-900019-54-8

GBP 5.00 Buy Online

113 pages, 14 colour and b/w illustrations


No 54

A City at War: The 4th Black Watch, Dundee's Own

Julie Danskin (2013)

Dundee’s memory of the First World War is stamped indelibly atop its starkest landmark, Dundee Law. This book concentrates on local experiences of the war to explore issues such as censorship, officer-man relations, social composition and the role of newspapers, allowing a more human story to take shape. Dundee had a strong human investment in the war, nowhere more so than in its local battalion, the 4th Black Watch, ‘Dundee’s Own’. Drawing on a wealth of archival material, particularly local newspapers, diaries and correspondence as well as art, photography and poetry, Julie Danskin draws out the very personal stories of the ‘Fourth’ from its leaving Dundee in February 1915 to its amalgamation in March 1916 following heavy losses suffered at the Battle of Loos. Although the history of the First World War is so often dictated by a narrative of battles and tactics, this book is very much Dundee’s story. With testimonies from the pages of the People’s Journal to the heart-breaking letters of two brothers from Barnhill, this book depicts how Dundee’s citizens at home and abroad experienced the war in training, in reserve, in battle, and in mourning.

Julie Danskin graduated from the University of Dundee with an undergraduate degree in History in 2010, and an MLitt in Scottish History in 2012. This book is based on her undergraduate dissertation, which won prizes from the University and the Abertay Historical Society. Julie is currently undertaking a PhD at the University of St Andrews, funded by the Carnegie Trust, which takes her preoccupation with networks and human experience into the realms of the Scottish Enlightenment.

ISBN 978-0-900019-57-7

GBP 7.50 Buy Online

122 pages, 13 b/w illustrations


Cover of Glen Clova book

No 53

Glen Clova through the Ages: a Short Guide to the History of an Angus Glen

Flora Davidson (2013)

Wherever you roam in Glen Clova you are surrounded by a living environment of pastoral farming and recreation. Traces of past human occupation stretch from prehistoric roundhouses and newly discovered Pictish longhouses to 19th-century abandoned settlements with their kaleyards and corn-drying kilns. In this book excerpts from original records bring the people vividly to life as they react to war and famine and enjoy traditional tales and gala-days. When handworkers could no longer compete with mass production and tenant and cottar were ousted by land reorganisation they emigrated. Their descendants will recognise named ancestors in this intimately researched book.

Flora Davidson, now resident in Glen Clova, lived many years in Arbroath as a teacher of modern languages, on retirement becoming a professional genealogist. Between times she published articles in the Scots Magazine, Scotland’s Magazine and The Scottish Field and with the help of her husband An Inventory of the Seventeenth-Century Tombstones of Angus, followed by a similar inventory of the Mearns, and The Examination Roll of Arbroath. With her daughter Elspeth Reid she wrote The Fortunes of Cynicus. Flora has also written a book of short stories, Past Days in Glen Clova, and a historical novel awaiting publication. For 11 years she edited The Pheon, the journal of the Clan Davidson Association.

ISBN 978-0-900019-50-0

150 pages, 12 colour plates and 13 b/w illustrations

Please note: this title has now sold out. We advise you to look for second-hand copies.



Two Intrepid Ladies book cover

No 52

Dundee’s Two Intrepid Ladies: A Tour Round the World by D C Thomson’s Female Journalists in 1894

Susan Keracher (2012)

In the 1890s, two women newspaper correspondents from Dundee embarked on an epic journey around the world for their employer, D.C. Thomson. Their assignment lasted almost a year, during which time they visited 10 countries and travelled over 26,000 miles. Their lively, illustrated reports give a fascinating insight into 19th-century travel and the role and status of women throughout the world. This book features a selection of highlights from these ground-breaking and highly entertaining accounts, presenting an appealing mix of travel writing, social history and gender politics. The detailed introduction and annotations help to place the original texts within their social and historical context.

Susan Keracher is Curator of Art at The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery & Museum. She received her MA in Art History at the University of St Andrews in 1998 and a postgraduate diploma in Museum & Gallery Studies in 2000. During the redevelopment of The McManus (completed in 2010), Susan curated the Dundee and the World gallery which showcases the City’s international collections. The ‘Two Intrepid Ladies’ display included in the gallery provided the starting point for this book.

ISBN 978 0 900019 49 4

GBP 7.50 Buy Online

106 pages, 10 b/w plates and 18 line illustrations

Ten Taysiders

No 51

Ten Taysiders: Forgotten Figures from Dundee, Angus and Perthshire

Selected and edited by the Abertay Historical Society with an introduction by Billy Kay (2011)

This book contains ten extraordinary stories – ten men and women from Dundee, Angus and Perthshire whose lives and achievements deserve to be better remembered. From the Crimean War hero of Atholl to the Dundonian who became a radical trade unionist in South Africa; from the lady philanthropist who founded Dundee’s University to the slave-trading sojourner of Montrose who later became an Abolitionist. Within these pages you will encounter great figures from the church, politics, business, medicine, natural science and many other fields. From the landed gentry to the humblest cattle herd – each one has a remarkable tale to tell.

ISBN 978 0 900019 48 7
GBP 4.00  Buy online
88 pages, 10 monochrome illustrations

Broughty Castle and the Defence of the Tay

No 50

Broughty Castle and the Defence of the Tay

Sir Francis Mudie, David Walker and Iain McIvor (2010)

First published in 1970, Broughty Castle and the Defence of the Tay has now been substantially revised and enlarged by Professor David Walker to bring it up-to-date with the latest developments in historical research. The book tells the story of Broughty Castle in local and national affairs from the late fifteenth century to the Second World War. It traces the fortunes of the Gray family who played an important part in the Anglo-Scottish wars and the upheaval of Reformation and the Regencies in the mid-sixteenth century, and later a central role in negotiations regarding the fate of Mary, Queen of Scots and the Union of the Crowns. It then follows the Castle’s pioneering restoration and its reconstruction as an artillery fort defending Dundee against bombardment by the French navy in the mid-nineteenth century and the Germans in the twentieth.

ISBN 978 0 900019 47 0

134 pages, 26 monochrome diagrams and illustrations

Please note: this title has now sold out. We advise you to look for second-hand copies.

The 1915 Rent Strikes

No 49

The 1915 Rent Strikes: An East Coast Perspective

Dr Ann Petrie (2008)

The 1915 rent strike in Glasgow during the First World War has become one of the most famous episodes associated with the legendary Red Clydeside conflicts. It was a dispute that was settled by the government in favour of the strikers when they introduced the Rent Restrictions Act, which capped rents for the duration of the war. As this book will argue, the success of the strike was not only due to events on the west coast, but to the national urban character of the strike. This book explores the housing situation and development of socialism on the east coast of Scotland and will, for the first time, describe in detail the strikes that took place in Dundee and to a lesser extent Aberdeen, Kirkcaldy and Leith.

Dr Ann Petrie is Course Leader at Angus College, Arbroath. After completing her degree she co-authored “The Glaxo”: 50 Years in Montrose, published in May 2002. Following this she successfully completed her doctoral research ‘Scottish Culture and the First World War, 1914-1939’ at the University of Dundee in August 2006 and published ‘J M Barrie and the First World War: Propagandist; Philanthropist and Apologist’ in the Scottish Association of History Teachers’ journal in 2008. Her area of academic interest focuses on the period surrounding the First World War and its impact on the home front in Scotland.

ISBN 978 0 90009 46 3

GBP 7.50Buy online

116 pages, 14 colour illustrations

Making the Vote Count

No 48

Making the Vote Count: The Arbroath Women Citizens' Association 1931-1945

Sarah F Browne (2007)

Women Citizens’ Associations were formed in Scotland in the aftermath of the campaign for equal suffrage as leading campaigner Eleanor Rathbone realised that a national network of groups was needed to educate women on their new role in civil society. Using previously unexplored papers, Sarah Browne seeks to highlight this forgotten part of women’s history. In this publication it is shown that far from being merely committee women these groups constituted important political forums campaigning on a number of issues of local and national importance, such as for more policewomen.

This study shows that due to entrance into formal politics being difficult for women of the early twentieth century that groups such as WCAs provided an important outlet for women who wanted to be involved in the political process. This research is even more significant when it is considered that the Arbroath branch is believed to be the last in existence out of an original Scottish twenty. This publication makes an important contribution to not only understanding the inter-war women’s movement in Arbroath but also adds significantly to the Scottish picture.

Sarah Browne was awarded a degree in History at the University of Dundee in 2005. During that time she completed a dissertation of which the research from that forms the basis of this book. It then went on to win the Abertay Historical Society Best Dissertation Prize. Sarah was recently awarded an MLitt and has now started her doctoral research funded by the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland.

ISBN 978 0 900019 45 6

GBP 4.00

88 pages, 10 monochrome illustrations

The Schoolmaster Engineer

No 47

The Schoolmaster Engineer: Adam Anderson of Perth and St Andrews 1780-1846

Kenneth Cameron (2007)

The Fergusson Gallery, formerly Perth’s old water works, which now houses the celebrated J D Fergusson art collection, is an outstanding feature of Scotland’s industrial archaeology. Strangely, this architectural and engineering triumph, the powerhouse of the city’s first genuinely clean drinking water system, was the creation of a schoolmaster, Dr Adam Anderson (1780-1846), Rector of Perth Academy.

In his revised and extended biographical study of this native of Kincardine-on-Forth, Kenneth Cameron describes the origins and construction of Anderson’s water system and of a bewildering array of other contributions to his adopted city, during a period of rapid economic change, technological advance, social upheaval, and political and religious crises. Anderson’s personal contributions towards the Georgian Fair City’s public service infrastructure, economic well-being, and its environmental preservation were unequalled, and many proved durable.

This study provides, in addition, glimpses of Kincardine’s mercantile past, a worm’s eye view of student life at St Andrews University at the turn of the 18th century, and of the challenges facing an ambitious itinerant tutor migrating annually between Enlightenment Edinburgh and rural Angus. Political turmoil in Perth in the First Reform Act era, and of strife amongst the professoriate of St Andrews University, where Anderson secured controversially the chair of natural philosophy nine years before his death, also feature.

A native of Perth, Kenneth Cameron attended Perth Academy. After graduating initially from Aberdeen, he completed a PhD in Scottish History at Edinburgh University, before qualifying in librarianship at Strathclyde. Posts in archives and librarianship at Dundee University led to eventual responsibility for Bibliographic Services, before he returned to Strathclyde University in 1986 as Depute Librarian. Dr Cameron’s first real encounter with Adam Anderson was when, as a very young member of the former Perth Town Council, he actively supported the decision to preserve the former waterworks for posterity. The first edition of The Schoolmaster Engineer was published by the Abertay Historical Society in 1988.

ISBN 978 0 900019 44 9

GBP 5.00

147 pages, 16 colour illustrations

A Noble and Potent Lady

No 46

A Noble and Potent Lady: Katherine Campbell, Countess of Crawford

Mary Verschuur (2006)

Katherine Campbell was the granddaughter of Archibald, second earl of Argyll. She was first married to James, master of Ogilvy and later to David Lindsay of Edzell, ninth earl of Crawford. Katherine lived through the ‘rough wooings’ and the Scottish Reformation. She outlived both her husbands and was no doubt fortunate that despite the fact that she was a very eligible widow in 1559, she was not required to marry again. This, however, did not ensure for her a genteel retirement.

The dowager Countess of Crawford was faced with bringing up all of her children in the politically and religiously unstable environment of the 1560s. She had given birth to the heirs to Airlie and Edzell and to ten other children besides. Dr Verschuur tells the story of Katherine’s successful management of her own and her children’s affairs in those turbulent times. Her surviving letters, papers and records of her numerous court appearances form the nucleus around which this portrait of A Noble and Potent Lady is drawn.

Mary Verschuur lives in Omaha (USA) but was born and raised in Perth. Her undergraduate studies in the US led to an MA in History after which she returned to her native land to complete a PhD in Scottish history at the University of Glasgow, awarded in 1985. Dr Verschuur’s publications include a monograph on Perth at the time of the Reformation entitled, Politics or Religion? Successes and Failures in the Reformation of the Town of Perth 1540-1570 (Dunedin Academic Press, 2006).

ISBN 978 0 900019 43 2

GBP 4.00

121 pages, 5 monochrome illustrations

The guildry of Dundee

No 45

The Guildry of Dundee

Annette M Smith (2005)

For many centuries only the Royal Burghs of Scotland could participate in the country's import / export trade and within these burghs the only legitimate dealers in this trade were the merchants. This privilege was greatly envied by those who could not partake in what could be a lucrative business and it was a constant struggle to prevent or punish breaches of the monopoly. Merchants everywhere realised at an early date that by acting together they would be more able to ward off competition and in many towns they formed their own association, the Guildry.

This study has used the fascinating records of the Guildry in Dundee to follow the efforts of the local merchants to defend their privileges until in 1846 changing views on free trade and democracy resulted in the abolition by Parliament of the special position of the Royal Burghs and all the monopolistic institutions within their bounds. The vital part the Guildry played in the economy of the burgh led also to its involvement in the administration and eventually to support for political reform.

Dr Annette M Smith studied Modern & Medieval History at the University of St Andrews. Family life interrupted her PhD studies and she eventually graduated in 1975, the same year as her older daughter. For many years a lecturer at the History department in the University of Dundee, Annette is also the author of the Abertay Historical Society's 1995 publication The Nine Trades of Dundee.

ISBN 978 0 900019 42 5

GBP 7.50

182 pages, 17 monochrome illustrations

Scottish Cowboys and Investors

No. 44

Scottish Cowboys & the Dundee Investors

Claire E Swan (2004)

Using a range of different sources including previously unexplored business papers, Scottish Cowboys and the Dundee Investors reveals one thread of Scotland’s little known business relationship with the United States. Looking closely at Dundee’s Matador Land and Cattle Company, Claire Swan explores how nineteenth century prominent Dundee investors transferred their fortunes into the uncharted territory of the Texas Panhandle when no American would consider it.

Spanning a period of seventy years, this study demonstrates how the Matador rose to be one of the most successful business ventures in Scottish and American history, and subsequently became a major competitor in international trading circles. This marks a significant contribution to Dundee’s economic history, while detailing the importance of Scottish overseas investment. Special detail is given to those well known Dundee figures that spearheaded the venture, in addition to those Scottish cowboys that rose to become national symbols in American history.

An excellent example of Dundee’s transatlantic business relations, this study also highlights the lasting legacy that can be found in Texas today.

Claire Swan obtained a degree in History from the University of Dundee in 2003. The dissertation that forms the basis of this book won the Abertay Best Dissertation prize and was nominated for Dissertation of the Year by the Royal Historical Society. Claire recently completed her MPhil studies and was awarded a Carnegie Scholarship Grant to fund her doctoral research.

Please note: this title has now sold out. We advise you to look for second-hand copies.

Dundee's Literary Lives Volumes One and Two

Dundee's Literary Lives Vol 1

No. 42

Vol 1: Fifteenth to Nineteenth Century (2003)

The oldest known Scottish poem, the Goddodin, was written near Dundee in the sixth century and during the Reformation and Renaissance some of the most influential writers in Europe including the Wedderburn brothers and Hector Boece were Dundonians. In 1660 the first full-length work of fiction written in Scotland was penned in the city whose guest-list includes Samuel Johnson, Oscar Wilde, Walter Scott, Robert Burns and Charles Dickens.

Andrew Murray Scott explores the Victorian age over three chapters and considers dozens of working class 'Poets of Protest' and the hundreds of self-styled 'Bards' (including William McGonagall) as well as the newspapers and magazines which made Dundee such an important cultural centre. Many important and neglected writers are considered; Robert Nicoll, James Gow, Robert Mudie, Robert Leighton, Frances Wright, George Gilfillan, James Young Geddes, David Pae and W.D. Latto.

ISBN 978 0 900019 38 7

GBP 3.00

104 pages, 16 monochrome illustrations

Dundee Literary Lives 2

No. 43 

Vol 2: Twentieth Century (2004)

This second volume of Andrew Murray Scott's innovative and critically-acclaimed cultural study considers Dundee's writers in World War One, the 'kailyard' period, the 'Scottish Renaissance' - and the present generation of literary prize-winners. It examines the cultural slump in mid-century, the dialect humour and distinctively local culture which emerged in the 1960s, the surprising upsurge in non-fiction writing since 1986 and the city's involvement in dramatic productions.

Important writers featured include Joseph Lee, Mary Brooksbank, Lewis Spence, J.B. Salmond, W.L. Lorimer and William Montgomerie - as well as today's literary stars such as A.L. Kennedy, W.N. Herbert and Don Paterson. The book is enlivened by the inclusion of poems and prose from the works of key figures and, like Vol 1, can be read both as a brief anthology and as an essential guide to numerous literary topics associated with Dundee.

Andrew Murray Scott is the author of twelve books including three novels and nine works of non-fiction and has been actively involved in the cultural life of Dundee as a writer and editor since the 1970s. He is a graduate of Dundee University.

ISBN 978 0 900019 39 5
GBP 3.00
128 pages, 16 monochrome illustrations
Special offer - purchase both volumes of Dundee's Literary Lives for GBP 5

Other available titles:

Victorian Dundee at Worship

No. 41

Victorian Dundee at Worship (2002)

Ian McCraw

ISBN 978 0 900019 37 9
GBP 4.00
108 pages

Patrons, Poverty & Profit

No. 39

Patrons, Poverty & Profit - Organised Charity in Nineteenth-Century Dundee (2000)

Dr Lorraine Walsh

ISBN 978 0 900019 35 7
GBP 2.50
65 pages

Keiller's of Dundee

No. 38

Keiller's of Dundee: The Rise of the Marmalade Dynasty 1800-1879 (1998)

W M Mathew

Long out-of-print, this title has now been reissued on CD as a pdf file

GBP 3.00
109 pages

The Demands of People

No. 37

The Demands of the People - Dundee Radicalism 1850-1870 (1997)

Michael St John

ISBN 978 0 900019 33 3
GBP 2.50
61 pages

One Artful and Ambitious Individual

No. 28

One Artful and Ambitious Individual - Alexander Riddoch, 1745-1822 (1989)

Enid Gauldie

ISBN 978 0 900019 24 1
GBP 3.50
65 pages

Please download Abertay Historical Society Order Form:  


Payment will only be accepted in pounds sterling.
For overseas orders, we recommend that you use the Parish Chest website

Please print out, complete and send, together with your payment, to:
Hon. Sales Secretary, Abertay Historical Society,
c/o, Alder Archaeology Ltd
Methven Mews
55 South Methven Street,
Perth PH1 5NX
Tel: (+44) 01738 622393
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


What's on

Wed, May 10th 2017 @ 6:00pm
The Lost World of Rossie Priory: Pioneering Photography
Lecture Theatre 2, Dalhousie Building, University of Dundee

Wed, Apr 12th 2017 @ 6:30pm
Excavation of Early Medieval Longhouses at Lair, Glenshee
Lecture Theatre 2, Dalhousie Building, University of Dundee

Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 6:30pm
Women and the Whaling Trade
D'Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum, Carnelley Building, University of Dundee

Wed, Feb 8th 2017 @ 2:15pm
Great Oaks from Little Acorns Grow: The Story of the University of Dundee
D’Arcy Thompson Lecture Theatre, Tower Building, University of Dundee

Wed, Feb 1st 2017 @ 6:30pm
The Poetic Landscape of Victorian Dundee
Lecture Theatre 2, Dalhousie Building, University of Dundee

Wed, Dec 14th 2016 @ 6:30pm
Surviving Dundee: Professional Lives in a Scottish Town, c.1750-1950
Lecture Theatre 2, Dalhousie Building, University of Dundee

Wed, Nov 9th 2016 @ 6:30pm
Dundee in the Great War: three short talks
Lecture Theatre 1, Dalhousie Building, University of Dundee

Wed, Oct 12th 2016 @ 6:30pm
Henry Taylor Wyse (1870-1951): Teacher, Artist, Craftsman
Lecture Theatre 2, Dalhousie Building, University of Dundee