‘Mo Rùn am Fearann’ – ‘My Love is the Land’: Gaelic landscapes of the 18th and 19th centuries

Grant, Kevin James (2016) ‘Mo Rùn am Fearann’ – ‘My Love is the Land’: Gaelic landscapes of the 18th and 19th centuries. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Printed Thesis Information: https://eleanor.lib.gla.ac.uk/record=b3253835


The period of the 18th and 19th centuries was one of great change in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Improvement, the Jacobite Rebellions, and the Clearances transformed its communities and landscapes. These events have rightly been a focus of research. However, archaeological approaches have often sought simply to illustrate these processes, rather than create new narratives about life in the past. The resulting picture of the period can over-emphasise economic change whilst failing to reflect the richness and variety of everyday life.
This thesis aims to suggest a new approach to the place and period, one which addresses matters often ignored in previous work. Whilst it has an archaeological sensibility, it draws on ideas from outside archaeology, such as landscape theory and on Gaelic oral tradition, an underused resource, to create a novel and broad-based approach to the period. An important part of the method is a synchronic approach that seeks to reconstruct the experience of the landscape at very particular times, engaging fully with the everyday experience of landscape rather than grand historical narratives. Two Hebridean case studies are utilised: Hiort (St Kilda) and Loch Aoineart, South Uist. Thematic discussions drawn from these landscapes are intended as critical assessments of the efficacy of the approach, as well as new narratives about life in the past in themselves.
The thesis concludes by comparing the two case studies, reflecting on the merits of the approach, discussing recurrent themes in the work, and considering its wider context and implications. It is concluded that taking a novel approach to the case study landscapes can create narratives that often contrast or expand upon those produced by previous scholars, allow for a more detailed consideration of everyday life in the period, and open up new areas for archaeological enquiry. The extensive and critical use of evidence from Gaelic oral tradition is highlighted as crucial in understanding life and society in the period. The thesis questions the utility of grand historical narratives as a framework for archaeological study of post-medieval Gaeldom and suggests that our understanding of the past is best served by approaching the evidence in ways which allows for many different voices and stories from the past to emerge.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Scottish Archaeology, landscape archaeology, post-medieval, Gaelic, narrative, practice, embodiment, Gaelic oral tradition, landscape archaeology theory, 19th century, Hebrides, St Kilda, South Uist, Loch Aoineart.
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Humanities > Archaeology
Supervisor's Name: Dalglish, Dr. Christopher and MacGregor, Dr. Martin
Date of Award: 2016
Depositing User: Dr Kevin J Grant
Unique ID: glathesis:2016-7654
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 26 Oct 2016 13:41
Last Modified: 23 Feb 2017 11:46
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/7654

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