Commercialisation, change and continuity: an archaeological study of rural commercial practice in the Scottish Highlands

Adamson, Donald Beck (2014) Commercialisation, change and continuity: an archaeological study of rural commercial practice in the Scottish Highlands. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This is a study of the movement of cattle and grain out of the Scottish Highlands in the period before and during Improvement. It uses the combined approach of historical archaeology (archaeological, documentary and cartographic research) to focus on the growth and implications of commercial practice in a predominately rural region. The growth of the cattle trade is evidenced in archaeological terms by drove roads and associated structures such as cattle stances, enclosures, bothies and inns. The thesis studies two droving routes. One is through central Sutherland, and the other in Cowal and west Loch Lomondside. The case-studies trace the route of cattle towards distant markets outside of the Highlands, and record and analyse overnight stopping places along the way. The development of a trade in grain from certain low lying fertile areas of the Highlands is evidenced by the building of grain storehouses or ‘girnals’ which were related to jetties, anchorages and harbours from which the grain was exported. The thesis considers the archaeology of the grain trade in Easter Ross, and also in the southern Highlands. Practice is central to everyday life, and the practices associated with moving cattle and grain have embedded themselves into the archaeology of the landscapes through which they passed. The seasonal routines by which drovers moved herds of black cattle or estate tenants brought grain to the girnals, and thence onto ships, were indicative of a mesh of social relationships. The material culture of the cattle and grain trades both structured and was structured by that routine practice. Thus the archaeology gives evidence of past social relationships and how they changed over time. This thesis considers for the first time the archaeological evidence for cattle and grain export from Highland Scotland. Therefore it gives a new understanding of the increasing impact of markets and market forces on social relations, as well as the tension between change and continuity in those relationships. It does not deny political or cultural drivers of change in the Scottish Highlands, but does emphasise what might be termed economic factors. It has something to say about the rise of the individual over community, and how individuals dealt with change in the light of asymmetrical power relationships. These issues still resonate in contemporary Scotland. Ultimately this study is about how people, mostly unnamed in documentary records, dealt with change, and it is about the archaeological legacy of their actions.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Cattle, Grain, Droving, Stances, Girnals, Roads, Routes, Improvement, Commercialisation,Storehouses, Scottish Highlands, Causes of Change
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Humanities > Archaeology
Funder's Name: UNSPECIFIED
Supervisor's Name: Dalglish, Dr. Chris and Given, Dr. Michael
Date of Award: 2014
Depositing User: Mr Donald Beck Adamson
Unique ID: glathesis:2014-5461
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 02 Dec 2014 09:07
Last Modified: 04 Dec 2014 15:12
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/5461

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