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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars brief but informative, 31 Mar 2011
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A. L. Mcleod "Anna McLeod" (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Burgess, Merchant and Priest: The Medieval Scottish Town (The Making of Scotland) (Paperback)
This is a very informative book that left me wanting to know more! Its 55 pages tell of the medieval Scottish burghs, past and those still around. Aberdeen, Perth, Dundee, Elgin, St Andrews to name a few. It mostly uses actual archeological evidence discovered during town renovation. My only complaint is that I would have liked more detail, but the book points you in the right direction to find out more.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Is Scotland's Experience Distinctive?, 6 Dec 2013
By 
Nicholas Casley (Plymouth, Devon, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Burgess, Merchant and Priest: The Medieval Scottish Town (The Making of Scotland) (Paperback)
Subtitled `Burgh Life in the Scottish Medieval Town', Derek Hall's introductory overview to this subject forms part of Historic Scotland's series of books on `The Making of Scotland'. This instalment to the series has fifty-six pages. This is a review of the 2002 edition. As with others in the series it is profusely illustrated with photographs, maps, plans, and reconstructions. However, many of the photographs are so small (requiring a magnifying glass), which is a shame since many of them are so interesting and well-chosen.

In his introductory remarks, Hall notes that, "A total of 197 burghs of different types were founded in Scotland between the 12th and 17th centuries. This book will try to show what we have learned about some of these burghs over the last 25 years, largely through the results of archaeological excavation."

The first half of the book has no formal chapters as such. Instead two to three pages are given over to such subjects as `Daily Life', `Social Organisation', and `Trade and Industry'. The focus is on Perth, which "has proved to contain remarkably well-preserved deposits" and is therefore used as an example in most sections, although sites in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and elsewhere also receive a mention.

I was surprised to read that no medieval Scottish port books have survived, nor have any early records of Scottish town guilds. Equally surprising is that there was no native pottery industry until the thirteenth century. Otherwise, it is difficult to pinpoint any differences in Scottish burghs from those south of the border (I write as an Englishman), despite the Romans not establishing an urban presence north of Hadrian's Wall. Hall mentions the rarity of market squares in Scotland, but a widened high street is as much a feature of many English boroughs as it appears to be in Scotland.

The book's second half focuses on some case studies from different regions of the country, namely Peebles, Ayr, St Andrews, and Elgin. Other sites to visit are listed at the end of the volume along with suggestions for further reading.
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