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Áedán of the Gaels (Hardback)

King of the Scots

Ancient History Military World History > UK & Ireland > Scotland

By Keith Coleman
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 208
ISBN: 9781526794901
Published: 2nd February 2022


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This is the first full-length work devoted to Áedán mac Gabráin, 6th century king of Dál Riata in Scotland. An associate of the famous St. Columba, he was the first recorded king to be ordained in these Islands and was the most powerful ruler in his generation.

His astonishing military reach took him from Orkney, Pictland, Ireland, Northumbria and the Isle of Man. This book details his dominant career, which came to a shattering end after decades of warfare at the Battle of Degsaston in AD 603. Beyond the record of warfare, there is a unique and tantalising accumulation of legend concerning Áedán, from stories about his birth, to tales of him in battle with Irish heroes. English sources mention him and he is one of the few Gaelic kings to feature prominently in Welsh tradition, where he is remembered as a uniquely powerful player in the north of Britain.

Modern writers highlight Áedán as the father of a prince named Arthur, which has led to his place in Arthurian studies. Áedán’s prominence in his era qualifies him as a fascinating figure, whose life and legend are accessibly explored in this exciting account of this unique ruler.

Although producing this book had been a difficult task, the author has done a good job. He hasn’t hidden the contradictions between his sources or the uncertainty about many major features of Aedan’s life, but has still produced a valuable account of the life of an important figure in a obscure period.

History of War

An incredibly well researched book, crammed full of information gleaned from all kinds of sources. The author has done a fine job of gathering all the various threads, from myths to contemporary accounts, into a passable biography of the man.

ARRSE (Army Rumour Service)

Enhanced for academia with the inclusion of maps, and informative introduction, an Appendix (Aedan mac Gabrdin in Legend), a one page 'A Word about Names and Places', a two page Chronology, fourteen pages of Notes, a seven page Bibliography, and a four page Index, "Aedan of the Gaels: King of the Scots" is a seminal work of meticulous historical scholarship and a welcome contribution to personal, community, college, and university library Medieval Biography collections and a supplemental curriculum studies Medieval History syllabus.

Read the full review here

Midwest Book Review

A very insightful, well researched book. I would suggest more suited to an academic audience as it contains a great deal of detail regarding the ancient world of Ireland and Scotland. Having said that it is extremely interesting to connect these two countries and how much one was influenced by the other. A great read. My grateful thanks to Netgalley, the publishers and the hardworking author for the chance to read this book.

NetGalley, Carol Elizabeth Keogh

Any book that provides information about people who might be connected to Arthurian legends is well worth a look. Added to which, the link to St Columba is something that I personally find of great interest, having heard Michael Portillo refer to him in a recent Great Railway Journey progranmme, and the fact he figures prominently in Bernard Cornwell's Last Kingdom series. Brilliant history for the masses.

Books Monthly

I liked what I read and discovered a fascinating and mysterious historical character.

NetGalley, Anna Maria Giacomasso

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

"Áedán of the Gaels" is a pretty astonishing historical figure, and it's a pretty astonishing book! I enjoyed reading this book so much, that I'm now hoping there's a series of novels either in existence or in the pipeline. Keith Coleman takes you through Áedán's life with great skill, giving a taste of that time in history and leaving you longing for more.

NetGalley, Dawn Lewis

About Keith Coleman

Keith Coleman has a MA degree in Celto-Roman Studies from the University of Wales, Newport. His book Aedán of the Gaels: King of Scots (Pen & Sword Books, 2022) was his latest long-term study of the legends and history of the Scottish kings. He is also the author of The Afterlife of Kings James IV, Otherworld Legends of A Scottish King (Chronos Books, 2019) and maintain several blogs about the legends and history of Scotland and its kings. He is currently working on a book on latter day Jacobites to be published by Pen & Sword.

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