The Secret History of Here is the story of a single place, a farm in the Scottish Borders. The site on which Alistair Moffat's farm now stands has been occupied since prehistoric times. The fields have turned up ancient arrowheads, stone spindles, silver pennies and a stone carved with the rune-like letters of Ogham. Walking this landscape you can feel the presence and see the marks of those who lived here before.
But it is also the story of everywhere. In uncovering the history of one piece of land, Moffat shows how history is all around us if only we have the eyes to see it. Under our feet, carved into the landscape, in the layout of paths and roads, in the stories we pass down, our history leaves its trace on the land.
Taking the form of a journal of a year, The Secret History of Here is a walk through the centuries as much as the seasons. We hear the echo of battles long since fought, of lives lived quietly or scandalously, of armies, of kings, of the common folk who mostly inhabited this land, and a little of those that live here now.
Alistair Moffat was born in Kelso, Scotland in 1950. He is an award-winning writer, historian and Director of Programmes at Scottish Television, former Director of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and former Rector of the University of St Andrews. He is the founder of Borders Book Festival and Co-Chairman of The Great Tapestry of Scotland, and the author of The Hidden Ways: Scotland’s Forgotten Roads and To the Island of Tides: A Journey to Lindisfarne.
"[Moffat] is a great teacher [...] Alert though he is to change and to the world we have lived into, he s forever in search of time that is lost and can be recovered. It is also enthralling [...] Moffat is aware that he will himself come in time to belong to the past. This book, like his earlier ones, should ensure that in a sense he survives"
"Joyous [...] a delightful meditation on a place, and on the role that humans played in its evolution"
"Delightful and richly personal [...] The charm of this book is that it is rooted in Moffat's lived experience. But, in his gracious humility, he sees himself as just one more [of] 300 generations"
– Church Times