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Royal and Lordly Residence in Scotland c 1050 to c 1250: an Historiographical Review and Critical Revision

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 November 2008

Richard D Oram
Centre for Environmental History and Policy, Department of History, University of Stirling, Stirling FK9 4LA, UK. E-mail: .


Academic study of eleventh- to thirteenth-century high-status residence in Scotland has been largely bypassed by English debates over origin, function and symbolism. Archaeologists have also been slow to engage with three decades of historical revision of the traditional socioeconomic, cultural and political models upon which their interpretations of royal and lordly residence have drawn. Scottish castle studies concerned with the pre-1250 era continue to be framed by a ‘military architecture’ historio graphical tradition and a view of the castle as an alien artefact imposed on the land by foreign adventurers and a ‘modernizing’ monarchy and native Gaelic nobility. Knowledge and understanding of pre-twelfth-century native high-status sites is rudimentary and derived primarily from often inappropriate analogy with English examples. Discussion of native responses to the imported castle-building culture is founded upon retrospective projection of inappropriate later medieval social and economic models and anachronistic perceptions of military colonialism. Cultural and socio-economic difference is rarely recognized in archaeological modelling and cultural determinism has distorted perceptions of structural form, social status and material values. A programme of interdisciplinary studies focused on specific sites is necessary to provide a corrective to this current situation.

Research Article
Copyright © The Society of Antiquaries of London 2008

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