Back in Time to Medieval Scotland

Timetravel with Aoife back to medieval Scotland for a look at castles, standing stones, cheesemaking and more.

Greetings everyone!

This week's Links list is about Medieval Scotland. I would have bet money that there was little information on the topic on the web---and I would have lost! Below please find 28 sites dedicated to various subjects on medieval Scotland: Museums, Musicians, Cheese, Clothing, History, Standing Stones, Women's History, and more.

Please enjoy these links in the spirit they are offered and pass them along wherever they will find an interested audience.


Medieval Scotland published by Sharon L. Krossa
(Site Excerpt) This is a collection of articles and resources aimed at anyone interested in Scotland between A.D. 500 and 1603, from about when the King of DRiata moved from Ireland to Argyll to when King James VI of Scotland inherited the English throne. Because medieval Scotland was not isolated from its surroundings in either space or time, there are also some articles concerning related regions and the focus time span is somewhat flexible. Some of the articles discuss not only what was done in Scotland in the Middle Ages but also how modern people might re-create aspects of medieval Scottish culture. While this may be of direct interest mainly to novelists and historical re-creators (such as those involved with battle re-enactment societies, renaissance fairs, or the SCA), this way of looking at things can also help clarify and illustrate actual medieval practice for anyone.

Scotland's Early Medieval Sculptured Stones
(Site Excerpt) The stone sculptures of the 5th to 11th centuries are amongst the nation's principal cultural assets. Approximately 2000 of the carved stones erected by the early peoples of Scotland - Picts, Scots, Britons, Angles and Norse - survive. However, the last comprehensive survey, the Early Christian Monuments of Scotland, was published in 1903. The great majority of the stones are not adequately recorded or analysed. More importantly, many are physically remote and are accessible only through scholarly publications. These monumental carvings contain images of great artistic merit and inscriptions of great historical value. They include two groups of sculptured stones which are unique to Scotland and which are of international significance as well as inspiring intense local interest: the Pictish symbol stones and the Celtic high crosses.'s Medieval Scotland
(Site Excerpt) From the ancient Picts to the Stuart Kings, the Scots have had an undeniable impact on the British Isles throughout the Middle Ages. The directories below will lead you to sites that examine Scottish History in medieval times.

BBC History--Early Medieval Scotland
(Site Excerpt) Over three centuries the Scots of Alba, the Angles of Lothian, the Britons of Strathclyde, the Vikings in the West and the Normans, who originated from France, were brought together to form the Kingdom of the Scots. They were led by the strong and increasingly powerful monarchs of the Canmore dynasty, founded by Malcolm Canmore and his wife Margaret. These rulers encouraged Scotland to become more "European". Scottish feudal nobles built their castles and looked after their tenants like nobles elsewhere in Europe. The idea of trading in "burghs" was another European idea which the kings encouraged by inviting men from Flanders to help create Scotland's first towns. Scottish rulers were particularly interested in strengthening the church in Scotland, particularly by opening new monasteries across the country.

Clan Map of Medieval Scotland
(Site Excerpt) Scotland with its original names The first detailed map of Scotland were not drawn until 1600, by which time most of the place-names and clan names had assumed their modern spellings. In 1991, the historical cartographer, John Garnons Williams, using many early sources, set out to map Scotland with the spellings of place names and clan names as they were at 1314, the year of Robert the Bruce's great victory over the English at Bannockburn. The resulting map of Scotland, the product of over a thousand hours of research and draughtmanship, shows over 600 place-names and 170 clan names in their earliest forms. It is therefore of equal value to those delving into the history and genealogy of Scotland, to those researching their Scottish family history and to the many people of Scottish descent around the world, who are simply looking for an attractive map of their mother country.

Friars in Medieval Scotland
(Site Excerpt) The orders of friars that emerged in the early thirteenth century spread rapidly throughout Europe and were a radical new force amongst the religious orders. The two most significant orders were the Franciscans founded by St. Francis of Assisi and the Dominicans founded by St. Dominic. Both received papal approval in around 1215. These orders of friars were committed to a life of poverty and were 'mendicant' in nature that is to say that they relied on the charity of others to support them. This was in marked contrast to monastic orders like the Benedictines whose abbeys were given endowments of land by their founder and as major landowners their monasteries were able to become wealthy institutions. Friars differed from monks in that the latter sought a secluded contemplative live which did not usually involve very much contact with the lay folk whereas the friar's role was to go out and preach to the masses.

Scottish Historical Clothing Research
(Site Excerpt) People from the Scottish Lowlands (including William Wallace and Robert the Bruce) most likely wore clothing in keeping with contemporary fashions in England and France. No, Wallace didn't wear a kilt; and he certainly didn't wear woad.The Scottish Highlands were considered a backwater of Europe, and not worth much attention, and consequently there are few descriptions or drawings of what people wore. In addition, few clothing remains have been found. All of this makes reconstructing a workable outfit rather difficult. Even in the later periods, documentation, especially for womens' clothing, is sketchy. At the same time, the Highlands were not absolutely isolated from the clothing trends that affected the rest of Europe, so one does see changes over time -- for example, ca. 1100 sleeves throughout Europe were narrow, and that's what we see in the Rogart Shirt. In the 1500s, wider sleeves were more popular throughout Europe, and one sees a wider sleeve in Irish clothing, too (albeit in a particularly Celtic form).

Medieval Scotland by A.D.M. Barrell (Cambridge University) Adobe Acrobat required
(Site Excerpt) The Peoples of England and Scotland were often suspiscious of one another, sometimes even at war, but both realms could boast a sequence of monarchs stretching back far into the mists of time. From such a vantage point, the development of the two kingdoms might seem an inevitable consequence of historical process centuries earlier, but in fact there was nothing inevitable about it, espescially in the case of Scotland.

Warfare in Medieval Scotland
A bibliography of texts for sources.

Scottish History Online Magazine by Robert Gunn
Though the copy function has been disabled, this magazine is a worthwhile publication, witha drop-down menu of extensive article sont he subject of medieval Scotland.

The Scottish Medieval Performing Class
or, A Brief History of Music in Scotland
by Eoghan Og mac Labhrainn

(c) 1997-1998 Matthew Newsome
(Site Excerpt) This article gleans its information mainly from Henry George Farmer's book, A History of Music in Scotland. What I have tried to do it concentrate on the role of the performing class in Scotland during the period between the sixth and the sixteenth centuries, and give Farmer's information on this topic in an abridged format. This article is taken largely from my notes, and is intended only as an introduction to the subject. Anyone interested is encouraged to read Farmer's text in its entirety. All information and quotes come from Farmer, unless noted otherwise.

Five Euphemias: Women in Medieval Scotland, 1200-1420 ( A book for sale)
This book might be worth looking into, through Inter-library loan, etc. for those with an interest in Scotland an Women's Studies.

Lothene Experimental Archaeology Group: Medieval Scotland
(Site excerpt) Lothene is an Edinburgh based group involved in researching and recreating aspects of life in Scotland in the 11th Century. The 11th Century was the period in which the present day boundaries of Scotland were established. Lothene (Lothian), which had previously been a part of Northumbria, was incorporated into the Kingdom of Scotland by King Duncan. This was also the time of Macbeth, Malcolm Canmore, and St Margaret, when Scotland changed from being a primarily Celtic society to one with wider European links.

Medieval Coinages: Scotland (a bibliography)

Tighearn Eoghan Og mac Labhriann
This site contains 14 article sfor those interested in Medieval Scotland.

Dispelling medieval Scotland's gloom by Peter Yeoman
(Scroll about 2/3 down the page for the article. Site Excerpt) The modern Scots have tended to look back on their medieval centuries as a time of unmitigated misery. It is certainly true that periods of intermittent warfare, pestilence and famine, coupled with a climate which was even worse than today, would not seem like a recipe for a Golden Age. And yet for Scotland the Middle Ages were in fact a period of growth; growth in towns, in trade, and in standards of living. Scotland embraced urbanism from a standing start in the early 12th century, through the granting of `burgh' status by David I and his successors to numerous settlements such as Edinburgh and Glasgow, Stirling, Berwick, Perth, and St Andrews; and archaeology has shown that the creation of burghs was rapid and successful. Urbanism acted as a spur to the spread of innovation and the creation of a mercantile trading economy, which in turn stimulated an increase in agricultural production and fundamentally altered the subsistence way of life that had formerly prevailed throughout much of the country.

Kingdom of the Scots: Monarchy and Power
The Scotland Museum
(Site Excerpt) Power in medieval Scotland stemmed from the monarchy. For much of the period Scotland was ruled by the Stewarts, a dynasty of kings and queens who were ambitious, creative and often warlike. Their story begins with Robert the Bruce.

National Museums of Scotland

Edinburgh University Collection of Historical Musical Instruments

National Library of Scotland

Recumbent Stones Circles in North East Scotland
(Site Excerpt) Recumbent Stone Circles are a distinctive type of stone circle found in North East Scotland. Two stones, often the tallest ones, flank a large recumbent stone lying on its side, weighing many tons. Mostly facing South West but with regional variations, its purpose is uncertain, but it is thought to be a level "frame" over which to observe the movements of the moon. The following examples are only a fraction of the hundred or so surviving Recumbent Stone Circles in North East Scotland

Greatest artifact of all time (Stone of Scone)
(Site Excerpt) This is the legend of one of the greatest artifacts of all time.The Stone of Scone also refered to as The Stone of Destiny or the Coronation Stone on which Kings and Queens of Ireland,Scotland and England have been crowned for century after century.The stone itself is a 336 lb. chunk of yellow sandstone. The stone goes back to Old testament times when according to legend Jacob used the stone as a pillow when he saw the ladder going into heaven as told in Genesis 28:10-22 during his dream Angels made prophecies to Jacob and when he awoke he used the stone to build a pillar after annointing it with oil and calling the place where he had slept Bethel .

About Scottish Castles
(Site Excerpt) Scotlands castles, there are over 3000 castles in Scotland. This site tells the stories of some of Scotlands greatest castles,palaces and monuments we have also included pictures of our unique collectable miniatures some are reconstruted to bring back to life these once great monuments in stone. Use our Auto Jump Off points above to browse your way through some of the Scottish castles, monuments and palaces of Scotland that we have to offer.

Cheese-making in Scotland, an Early History
(Site Excerpt) A few miles from the author's home in Wiltshire,UK, perforated earthenware bowls dating back to 1800 BC have been unearthed on Windmill Hill, an enclosure built by the Neolithic 'beaker people'. These could well have been used for draining cheese curd. To this day woven baskets are still used in India for the making of Surati Panir and Dacca curds.

Knights and Warriors prepare for Caerlaverock Castle Siege
(Site Excerpt) Edward I, the Hammer of the Scots, will oversee a medieval siege at Caerlaverock Castle near Dumfries this summer, just as he did exactly 700 years ago. The 'king' will be taking part in Historic Scotland's biggest ever event of its type on July 8 and 9, when more than 200 performers will recreate the two-day siege. Caerlaverock Castle, near Dumfries, was caught up in the fierce Wars of Independence and like many other border fortresses, its Scottish defenders fought hard to resist the attack.An epic poem detailing the battle at Caerlaverock still exists and this is being used as the blueprint for the recreated siege. Although the garrison ultimately surrendered in 1300, their courage so impressed the victors that their lives were spared and each soldier was given a new suit of clothes.

Medieval History of Scotland
(Site Excerpt) The Middle Ages saw the birth of Scotland. This land had been under constant attack from Norsemen, Picts, Britons, Celts, and Angles, but Kenneth Macalpine, King of Scots, in 843 united clans and declared himself ruler of Scotia. He took the Stone of Destiny to Scone to be used for his coronation. This stone is traditionally regarded as the pillow Jacob used when he dreamt of a ladder carrying angels between heaven and earth. Generations of Scottish kings were crowned on a throne that housed this stone. William the Lion's ill-fated expedition to capture Northumberland in 1174 led to the humiliating Treaty of Falaise that placed Scotland under English rule. This rule was increasingly severe through the time of Edward I, who named himself overlord of Scotland. Scots patriot William Wallace, whose exploits were later immortalized in the movie Braveheart, resisted Edward and was later executed for this. Robert the Bruce went to Scone castle in 1306 and had himself named King, and went on to defeat Edward II's forces at Bannockburn in 1314 and win back Scottish independence.