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Reviewed by Scott Skipper for Readers' Favorite
Legend and fact intertwine tantalizingly throughout the history of what we now know as the British Isles. The story of the Kingdom of Alt Clut, what fragments survive, is populated by the likes of King Arthur, Saint Patrick, Macbeth and Old King Cole, and it occupies a setting not far removed from Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Tim Dalgleish guides the reader through the hazy genealogy of the kings of Alt Clut who waged their wars across the highlands of what will become modern Scotland and he tells us how they interacted with the more familiar players of the day. One finds it remarkable that a kingdom enduring for six or seven centuries, in part contemporaneously with the obsessively preservationist Romans, could so completely sink beneath the shroud of time. Ancient Britain —more correctly, what would become Britain — was rife with famous chroniclers such as the Venerable Bede, Chaucer and Saint Patrick, but the sum of what can be known of Alt Clut is well summarized in this thought provoking sixty-two-hundred word essay.
Being a junkie for history, I could not resist revisiting Alt Clut. I first became aware that this shadowy kingdom had existed from Norman Davies’ monumental Vanished Kingdoms which Tim Dalgleish references among other unimpeachable sources. Mr. Dalgleish remixes the sparse facts and presents them concisely and entertainingly. He teases the reader with comparisons of the facts of Alt Clut and their similarity to well known and cherished legends, giving the reader to wonder if the enigmatic Alt Clut was the birthplace of those immortal tales. I have only one complaint, and I tell you with tongue in cheek, that no document comprised of only sixty-two-hundred words should ever contain the word ‘subsumed’ twice.