12th Conference 1969

The 12th Conference of the Scottish Medievalists was held at Henderson Hall, University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 4-5 January 1969. Minutes Secretary Thomas I. Rae.

12th Conference 1969

5.05 p.m. Chairman: Dr. A. L. Brown. THE ELEVENTH CENTURY.

Professor Duncan opened the discussion on the 11th century problems by stating that little new evidence on secular society in this period had been discovered since Skene wrote; in the future new evidence might accrue from archaeological studies, but modern criticism had also reduced the amount of reliable evidence. He saw the period as one of Celtic expansion, the Anglican areas undergoing

a process of Gaelicisation within a united kingdom well organised for war; and contrasted the situation in Scotland with that in Ireland. He admitted that much of his interpretation was a reading back from evidence of the 12th and 13th centuries, and went on to discuss the obligations of military service for the Crown on a territorial basis, the relationship of earls and mormaers with the kings, and the organisation of royal estates and the collection of royal dues. The boundaries of the 12th century feudal sheriffdoms in South Scotland were based on the boundaries of earlier demesne organisation. Professor Duncan examined this concept in detail, seeing in it one of the factors in the stability of 11th-century Scottish monarchy, and concluded that the strength of the 12th-century Scottish monarchy was not brought about entirely by a policy of feudalism but was also based on the accumulation and development of royal resources in the 11th century.

The discussion which followed was lively, and touched on such points as: the extent of Gaelic speaking in S.E. Scotland; the form of regional boundaries; and the relationship between hosting and feudal knight service.

8.15 p.m. Professor Barrow reopened the discussion on two particulars: territorial divisions, and the nature of kingship. Again reading back from later evidence, he felt there were grounds for a comparison of the territorial divisions of South Scotland with those of N.W. England and the Welsh Marches. In a detailed comparison of these regions, he pointed out that in all three areas the beneficiaries of the feudal settlement received sizeable and compact chunks of territory which did not need detailed description; they were areas with rights and obligations, a system of offices, etc., already defined before they were regranted in feudal form. This point was elucidated by a detailed comparison of cain-type rents, conveth-type hospitality obligations, and the office of sergeant of the peace in all three regions, concluding that in spite of a differing terminology, these all stemmed from a common ancestry. On kingship, Professor Barrow commented that the conversion of kingship into monarchy was a theme common to Western Europe from the 10th to the 12th centuries. Scotland in the 11th century was halfway between the multiple kingship of Ireland and the monarchy of England. The idea of kingly status as opposed to the idea of a single king remained in Scotland until the 12th century; this was elucidated by a careful analysis of the genealogy of the Scottish royal family and the associated families of MaCilliam and Macbeth. The idea, if not the fact, of multiple kingship remained in Scotland until the beginning of the 13th century.

Discussion on various aspects of both papers continued until 10.20 p.m.

The rest of the 12th conference, including the second day, consisted of society and project reports and discussion.