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Land Law and People in Medieval Scotland

Cynthia J. Neville

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This ambitious book examines the encounter between Gaels and Europeans in Scotland in the central Middle Ages, offering new insights into an important period in the formation of the Scots' national identity. It is based on a close reading of the texts of several thousand charters, indentures, brieves and other written sources that record the business conducted in royal and baronial courts across the length and breadth of the medieval kingdom between 1150 and 1400.

Under the broad themes of land, law and people, this book explores how the customs, laws and traditions of the native inhabitants and those of incoming settlers interacted and influenced each other. Drawing on a range of theoretical and methodological approaches, the author places her subject matter firmly within the recent historiography of the British Isles and demonstrates how the experience of Scotland was both similar to, and a distinct manifestation of, a wider process of Europeanisation.


Part One: Land and People
1. Baronial courts in Scotland, 1150-1400
2. The perambulation of land
3. The development of 'trust in writing': written documents and seals in Scotland, 1100-1300
Part Two: Land and Law
4. Building and preserving a noble inheritance: the family of Strathearn, 1243-1332
5. Peasants, servitude and unfreedom in Scotland, 1100-1350
Conclusion: the concept of social space in medieval Scotland
Advanced undergraduates, academics and researchers in Scottish Medieval history

About the Author

Cynthia J. Neville is the George Munro Professor of History at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada. She has published extensively on various aspects of the legal and social history of the Anglo-Scottish border lands in the period 1200-1500 and on the social and cultural encounter between Gaels and Europeans in medieval Scotland. She is the author of Violence, Custom and Law: The Anglo-Scottish Border Lands in the Later Middle Ages (Edinburgh University Press, 1998) and Native Lordship in Medieval Scotland: The Earldoms of Strathearn and Lennox, c.1140-1365 (2005).