22nd Conference 1979

The 22nd Conference of the Scottish Medievalists was held at Pitlochry, 6-7 January 1977. Minutes Secretary [to establish]. The notes below are abstracts from the minutes, not full transcripts.

22nd Conference

22nd Conference 1979 Saturday 6 January 4.15pm

Scotland and its Neighbours

  • Dr Alasdair Stewart ‘A Norman in Scotland 1428’
  • Mr Alexander Stevenson ‘Relations Between Scotland and the Low Countries’
  • Chairman Dr J. Gilbert

Dr Stewart’s papers explored the French embassy on behalf of Charles VII to the court of James I in Perth in 1428. This paper primarily focused on the third man of this mission Alain Chartier, who was also a poet and writer. Chartier’s works were discussed in relation to Scottish diplomacy. Comment is made on the similarities between English claims on Normandy as to those on Scotland. ‘Alain Chartier was thus appreciated in Francophile Court circles in Scotland in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries for his elegant statment of sentiments common to both parties of the Auld Alliance.

Alexander Stevenson’s paper gave a general background to relations from the thirteenth century. The Flemish were important in the establishment of the burghs and continental trade. The Wars of Independence had shifted Scottish trade relations from England to the sea and the Continent. As the Low Countries were the first safe port for many voyages, it was obvious major links would be established. Prior to 1500 Stevenson had found over 500 references to foreign trade. He was of the opinion that imports were more important to Scotland than England in this period. Scots were perhaps not highly regarded on the continent due to their second-rate produce and small shipments.

Evening Session

Richard Fawcett: ‘Late Gothic Architecture in Scotland and its links with France’

Chaired by Ian Fisher

Fawcett proposed to consider ecclesiastical architecture from the late fourteenth century to the early sixteenth and to look beyond general assumption of a French element to explain its un-English appearance. Until the thirteenth century almost all ecclesiastical buildings were English influenced, although not all used up to date ideas – Sweetheart Abbey or Elgin Cathedral for example. However, rebuilding of Elgin after 1390 suggested influence from the Low Countries. Dunkeld looked broadly European but without the finesse of French design. Flemish influence seemed likely given the trading links and these seemed apparently at St Mary’s Dundee and St Mary’s Haddington. French influence was more apparent in window tracery. In conclusion it may be said that in no sense could French architecture be seen as filling the role for Scotland which had been played by English architecture up to at least the end of the thirteenth century. By the early fifteenth century Scottish architects were producing buildings which unmistakably were Scottish in character for the first time. Architectural solutions were seldom very adventurous, but synthesised the ideas of various sources.

22nd Conference 1979 Sunday 7 January 11.30pm

Scotland and its Neighbours Continued

  • Dr Crawford: ‘Scotland, Scandinavia and the Baltic’
  • Mr K. Nicholls ‘Scotland and Ireland: fromt he C13th to the C16th’
  • Chaired by E. Cowan.

Dr Crawford began with a word of caution over covering such a wide area. In countries like Denmark, trade seemed to follow the flag and international diplomacy, and this relationship became very important as time went on for Scotland’s links to the Baltic. Trade with Scandinavia was more important to Scotland than vice versa. Timber was the most important commodity. The relationship was not always smooth though, and waxed and waned over time: ownership of Orkney and Shetland was a continual sticking point between Scotland and Denmark.

[An abstract of Nicholls paper was not received]