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This is the first overview of Highland society ever to be written which covers the period from the rise of Somerled to the first clearances. The period has been chosen as one of considerably continuity and the book deals with four main themes - the changing political relationships and tensions within the region, the clans, their composition, alliances, strongholds and patterns of display the changes in settlement over time, and the economy of the Highlands and Islands. Most books on the Highlands concentrate either on crofting or on high politics, but without a full understanding of the dynamics of society, much of Highland history is difficult to comprehend. This book is not a dry economic narrative, but a lavishly illustrated story of a society in many ways unique in Europe, a story of feasting in great halls such as Dunvegan, of the galley fleets of the great lords, of strange pagan survivals in ritual and belief, and of a magnificent oral tradition. This is both a new and exciting view of a society too often dismissed either as a backward relic of the past or combed through for similarities with Scotland south of the Highland line.