"The Faded Map, The Story of the Lost Kingdoms of Scotland" by Alistair Moffat tells the story of the lost dark age kingdoms of southern and central Scotland. The phrase "dark age" says more about those of us who use it than it does about the people who lived during an era very roughly defined by the departure of the Romans and the arrival of the Normans. This is an era that appears to us to be "dark" simply because written records are so very thin on the ground.
Historians have grappled with the problem of the dark ages in a number of different ways, which can be characterised as the "glass is half empty" approach and the "glass is half full" approach. At one extreme you encounter purists who seek to discount everything that can't be proved to be hard fact. This is an intellectually valid approach, but the problem is that when you use it to try to tell the story of the dark ages in the land that became Scotland, even those parts of it relating to the Scots and the Picts who have left most behind in the form of (respectively) written and physical evidence, you end up with a fragmentary, stuttering account that leaves you wishing the many gaps could be filled.
In contrast, Alistair Moffat takes the "glass is half full" approach to history. He starts with the known and demonstrable facts, but does not simply discount the softer evidence that comes from legend, from traditional ballads and poems, from the accounts of lives of saints, and, especially, from the patterns and origins of place names and what they reveal about the languages of early residents. This is as well, because the story Alistair Moffat sets out to tell is that of the shadowy "losers" of dark age Scotland: the kingdom of southern and central Scotland such as Manau, Degsastan and An Clut, whose heritage is reflected more strongly in modern Wales than it is in Scotland. Also included is the story of Bernicia, largely lost to Scotland because it has become so closely associated with the origins of Northumberland.
By applying an inclusive approach to the evidence used, while always being careful to identify the reliability of his sources, and using informed common sense to address obvious gaps, Alistair Moffat has succeeded in producing a book which gives a satisfying and convincing account of this little known part of Scotland's history.