Highland settlement evolution in West Perthshire : development and change in the parish of Balquhidder from the fifteenth century to 1851
This thesis is concerned with four leading ideas. These are continuity, persistence, discontinuity, and redundancy, as essential elements of the evolutionary process of human settlement. This requires a dynamic view of history, rather than a periodic one. The research, therefore, focussed upon one parish and traced its evolution from the middle ages into the nineteenth century. The thesis reviews evidence for origins of the social and settlement system before the fifteenth century. Internal local processes of change, and external forces, are examined. Modern theories of the antiquity and influence of great estates, and their subsidiary territorial units, upon the development of rural environments, are examined in relation to the development of land use, tenurial systemst and social organisation. Results indicate the persistence of ancient land divisions, and of cultural characteristics of communities, through periods of significant change. Demographic changes were very important driving forces in the evolutionary process. However, cultural traditions, handed down through generations, tended to inhibit changes, even in the face of economic necessity and land shortage. A destructive negative force operated within an expanding population, on a fixed area of land. The policy-making role of the superiors in the great estates was seen to act as a positive force. This first produced incremental changes which accommodated crises, and later more fundamental changes resulting in some discontinuity. The dissolution of the archaic system, and synthesis of a new one, took place in the early nineteenth century. Population increase was traced as early as the sixteenth century. Responses in estate management appeared by the early ei ghteenth century. The research combined evidence from documentary sources and field surveys. This thesis follows one special aspect of the results. Others remain to be examined. It is an open-ended presentation, intended as a base for further work, although complete within itself.