"The Hot Trod: A History of the Anglo-Scottish Border" by John Sadler is a nicely written and thoroughly engaging account of the history of the lands along Scotland's border with its only land neighbour, England. This is a part of Scotland it's all too easy to overlook. Too many modern travellers from the south cross the border and press on along the A1 or M74 without realising they are passing through areas every bit as fascinating - and often even more remote - than their intended destinations further north. The same is true of the history of these areas, which has all-too-often been downplayed or minimised in mainstream accounts of the history of Scotland.
The publisher's description of the book says: "As a borderer and historian John Sadler is uniquely qualified to examine the border from Roman times to today. He’s been in these Marches all his life, read about their wild inhabitants, traversed every inch and studied every castle, bastle, tower and battlefield." The author's intimate knowledge of the lands he writes about is very obvious and adds enormously to the book. Yes, he has clearly researched the topics he covers deeply and comprehensively: but there's no substitute for truly knowing your subject when it comes to understanding implications and making links. This comes over time and again in "The Hot Trod". Incidentally, the name of the book has an interesting origin. Back in the day, if your cattle were stolen there was a legal requirement to pursue the rustlers within six days, which constituted a "Hot Trod". If you failed to do this you were otherwise on a less enforceable "Cold Trod".
The front flap of the dust jacket sets the book in context: "The 2014 Scottish independence debate and the re-ignition of the SNP’s call for a second vote in the wake of Brexit - and indeed Brexit itself - begs a reappraisal of what nationality and borderer identity actually mean in the twenty-first century and how the past affects this... From the Hammer of the Scots, William Wallace, Robert the Bruce and Mary, Queen of Scots, right through to today’s new nationalism, the story of the borderlands is tempestuous, bloody and fascinating."
The book opens with a timeline, which is very helpful in setting the contents in context. It concludes with detailed endnotes and a bibliography; and there's a very nice selection of colour and monochrome images in a section in the centre. We'd highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to know more about this too-little-understood area.