Seeking patterns of lordship, justice and worship in the Scottish landscape

Steele, Joyce (2014) Seeking patterns of lordship, justice and worship in the Scottish landscape. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis seeks to identify patterns between various pre-Christian and early Christian sites situated in the pre-Reformation landscape. Scotland, and the west in particular, is distinctly lacking in documentary evidence when compared to other areas in the British Isles – there is unfortunately no Scottish equivalent of the Domesday Book. However, human activity leaves evidence in the form of actual sites or memories and traditions of those that have gone without trace; and it was these sites that form the backbone of this study. A multi-disciplinary approach is adopted, taking an innovative maximalist approach in order to allow patterns to emerge that can be subjected to critical analysis. The study takes the Ordnance Survey National Grid NS map square as an arbitrary limit, and utilises the site record of the Royal Commission for Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, constructing a large database of sites, a digital mapping programme (ArcView), place-name, historical and archaeological data along with evidence from antiquarian authors. The resulting maps were then studied to identify patterns as described in the Methodology (Chapter 2). Chapters 3 and 4 examine the patterns produced when looking at two site types: court hills and holy wells. These site types are considered in respect of their proximity to other site types, in particular, early Christian sites such as parish churches and chapels. The data produced from studying holy wells in the landscape is interesting in their apparent proximity to chapels and parish churches; however, it was limited by the lack of dating evidence for these elusive sites. Court hills, proved to be more interesting and their repeated proximity to parish churches, which mirrored the few previous studies, implied the parish churches had been deliberately placed to the court hills. This, in turn, begged the question, why? In the concluding chapter, the study considers the possibility that court hills continued to be important in a landscape of overarching, general and specific lordship. Patterns indicated a tendency towards the siting of parish churches beside court hills in the royal demesne and provincial lordships, which was less frequent in those of specific lordships. Similarly, there is the possibility that this might represent a form of shire, thought to have been previously unattested in the west of Scotland.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: court hill, holy well, lordship, medieval, parish, shire, Scotland, church, chapel.
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Humanities > History
Supervisor's Name: Broun, Professor Dauvit
Date of Award: 2014
Depositing User: Mrs Joyce Steele
Unique ID: glathesis:2014-5811
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 03 Mar 2015 08:32
Last Modified: 06 Mar 2015 08:56

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