Rural settlement in the age of reason: an archaeology of the southern Scottish Highlands from the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries A.D.

Dalglish, Chris (2000) Rural settlement in the age of reason: an archaeology of the southern Scottish Highlands from the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries A.D. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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From the eighteenth century, the material environment of the southern Scottish
Highlands underwent radical change. This material change formed part of a wider process
of social change known as Improvement. In this, a re-ordering of space within the house
and throughout the wider landscape was intimately linked to change in the daily routines of
the farming population and, thus, to change in the ways in which people related to each
Prior to Improvement, people routinely experienced their world as part of the
community of the farming township or as part of the family. Houses, settlements, and
fields were organised in such a way as to maintain these forms of experience. Against this
background, an ideology of clanship, that is of a wider community, and concepts of
hereditary tenure appeared as common sense. Improvement sought to re-order routine in
such a way as to privilege experience of the world as an individual, apart from the
community and the family. With this achieved, an ideology of the individual and concepts
of private property would in turn be privileged. Improvement sought, in this way, to
introduce capitalism to the countryside of the southern Highlands.
This thesis is in part an exploration of this process of Improvement through two case studies, in Kintyre and in Kilfinan parish. Changes to the material environment and to
routine practice are traced for these areas; the intellectual context of Improvement, the
Scottish Enlightenment, is discussed as the source of inspiration and justification for
Improvement on the landowners part; and the specific motives of the various Improving
landowners are explored as the process is restored to its specific social and historical
contexts. However, to conceive of Improvement as imposed by a small group of landlords
on a passive population is to misunderstand the dynamics of that process. As such, the
penultimate chapter focuses on understanding how that population accepted, rejected or
manipulated their landlord's initiatives in negotiating their position as occupants of the
land. Improvement in practice took on specific local forms that were primarily defined in
relation to the question of land rights.
The narratives of Improvement constructed in what is to follow are of more than
parochial interest. They form part of the global story of the emergence of capitalism and capitalist society. A major aim of this thesis is to consider how we should go about writing social histories and archaeologies of capitalism. There are two main conclusions that will
be drawn. First, that capitalism (an ideology of the individual made knowable in routine
practice) should be differentiated from capitalist society (where capitalism is widespread,
but not necessarily universally or homogenously accepted). This distinction allows us to perceive alternative forms of social relationship within capitalist societies. In accepting the
distinction, writing histories of capitalism involves considering how capitalism emerges
and interacts with those alternative forms of social relationship in particular historical situations. The second main conclusion is that, in accepting the definition of capitalism
given above, archaeology has a significant role in understanding capitalist societies as it
has the material environment and routine practice as one of its basic concerns. It is in those
environments and through that practice that the conditions allowing or denying acceptance
of the ideology of the individual are created.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Humanities > Archaeology
Supervisor's Name: Driscoll, Prof. S.
Date of Award: 2000
Depositing User: Mrs Marie Cairney
Unique ID: glathesis:2000-4819
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 10 Jan 2014 16:49
Last Modified: 15 Jan 2014 13:31

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