A fascinating history of Scotland’s pubs

Having visited Scotland, Samuel Johnson, James Boswell, Dorothy Wordsworth and Robert Southey all wrote accounts of their experiences in its taverns, inns, public houses and ale houses, which form a large part of Scotland’s history and character.

A History of Drinking: The Scottish Pub since 1700 examines continuity and change in the functions of Scottish drinking places, their use as a public space for business transactions, to celebrate life rituals such as birth, marriage and death, for cultural activities, for sporting activities, for tourism and for ‘underground’ activities of crime and prostitution.

Historical issues such as temperance, together with contemporary issues like the liberalisation of licensing laws and the changing nature of  Scottish pubs are discussed, while a series of interviews with present day licensees examine the traditional Scottish pub and ask whether it will survive in the modern era.

This splendid read relates pubs, drinking and temperance to the central themes of modern Scottish history.

A History of Drinking: The Scottish Pub since 1700, by Anthony Cooke, published by Edinburgh University Press, £80.

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