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Above Scotland - The National Collection of Aerial Photography


For nearly one hundred years, photographs from Scotland's skies have captured every aspect of a rapidly changing nation. The National Collection of Aerial Photography is made up of millions of these images, unique split-second pictures of history stopped still. The earliest aerial views in the Collection – from the years immediately after the First World War – bring to life the towns and cities of our grandparents, with horizons obscured by chimney smoke and vast factories and shipyards powering the British Empire. From the 1940s, thousands of Royal Air Force photographs witness the nation transformed into a military machine, its countryside and coastlines bearing the heavy boot-print of global conflict. And images from the second half of the twentieth century show the dramatic decline of the Central Belt's heavy industries, and the diverse new communities, from utopian New Town experiments to huge glass and chrome retail outlets, which have risen to take their place.

Year-on-year the National Collection, curated by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS), continues to grow. More historic photographs are discovered, more declassified military imagery is deposited, and the RCAHMS aerial survey team takes to the skies to record everything from ancient ruins found in remote glens to the gleaming new architecture and engineering of our constantly evolving landscape.

Every photograph tells a story. Each image is a window onto a scene of suspended time. Viewed together, the millions of moments of Scotland captured over the past century are transformed into a remarkable image reel – a living, moving, growing account of the making of a modern nation.

The images in this gallery come from Above Scotland: The National Collection of Aerial Photography. Published in a new, compact paperback edition by RCAHMS on 15 March 2014, this 224-page, lavishly illustrated book contains 200 of the finest photographs from the National Collection, with authors David Cowley and James Crawford telling the history of Scotland from a unique and fascinating perspective.

Price £14.99

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