There are strange relics hidden across Scotland's landscape: forgotten places that are touchstones to incredible stories and past lives which still resonate today. Yet why are so many of these 'wild histories' unnoticed and overlooked? And what can they tell us about our own modern identity?
From the high mountain passes of an ancient droving route to a desolate moorland graveyard, from uninhabited post-industrial islands and Clearance villages to caves explored by early climbers and the mysterious strongholds of Christian missionaries, Patrick Baker makes a series of journeys on foot and by paddle. Along the way, he encounters Neolithic settlements, bizarre World War Two structures, evidence of illicit whisky production, sacred wells and Viking burial grounds.
Combining a rich fusion of travelogue and historical narrative, he threads themes of geology, natural and social history, literature, and industry from the places he visits, discovering connections between people and place more powerful than can be imagined.
Patrick Baker has worked in the publishing industry for many years and is currently writer for an investment management company. He is a keen outdoor enthusiast and has walked and climbed throughout Scotland and Europe. He is the author of The Cairngorms: A Secret History.
"Baker's prose is so vivid that you see, hear, smell and feel his journeys with him. When writers often fall back on damaging divisions between 'nature' and 'culture', this book is a crucial reminder that there's no contradiction in the term 'wild histories'"
– David Gange
"Patrick Baker explores far-flung ruins and relics – from a cemetery for dam-builders to the remains of illicit stills – that serve as archives for Scotland's 'wild histories'. It's a haunting little book"
– Telegraph, one of the Telegraph's 'best travel books to take you far away
"Wandering and kayaking through some of the UK's wildest places, Baker reveals an area tantalisingly layered through with history and mystery in this fascinating exploration of the area. Along the way as he navigates Scotland's peaks, creeks and cracks, he charts the labyrinth of ancient and modern history as well as the connections between the two, enriching any visit to the area"
– Wanderlust Magazine
"An evocative tome detailing his adventures in tracking down some of Scotland's most remote monuments to history [...] the lost relics and secret places of Scotland's wild, wild past"
– Sunday Post
"The stories are well told, entertaining and informative, and the author's adventures, which don't always go smoothly, bring reality to the situations in which the historical events took place [...] For anyone interested in the Scottish outdoors and the history of its wild places this is a great read. I thoroughly recommend it"
– Chris Townsend, Outdoors
"The stories in this compact book are the stuff of campfire nights [...] a book of great interest and insight. The effort of reaching these outposts is impressive in itself, but when he arrives at his destination, Baker brings a sensitivity to history, landscape, and the lingering spirit of those who once lived there that raises The Unremembered Places far above reportage. It is a reclaiming of remoteness, and a reminder that, no matter how far off the map, for those who lived here these locations were the centre of the world"
– Rosemary Goring, Herald
"We are taken on a series of journeys, into areas of Scotland's history and geography of which most readers are likely to be ignorant. So the nine chapters of the book, each dealing with a different place, discovery and journey are educational and enlightening. They are also enjoyable. [...] in short, anyone reading this engaging book will learn much and have pleasure in doing so"
– Alan Massie, Scotsman