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Title: The historical geography of Strathmore and its Highland boundary zone from 1100 A.D. to 1603 A.D.
Author: Gilbert, John
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1954
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Pebvre writes that the fundamental problem which human geography :Sets itself is aWhat are the relations between htumán societies of to -day and their present gmsr6z geographical environment ?" Our problem has been th, same but ins Zead of the present we have been concerned with the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth and sixteenth centuries during which periods there were many changes both in the environment and in the adaptation of his environment by the inhabitants. By the thirteenth century Strathmore and the adjacent Highlands were no longer virgin areas, although there were large tracts of natural vegetation unmodified by man. By the sixteenth century, however, deforestation, reclamation, and developments in agriculture had so altered the appearance of the countryside that it is possible to recognise in it indications of the modern landscape. The change in the appearance of the highlands was great but none the less indicative of their future. Throughout the area progress in agriculture was not uniform: around Coupar Angus rotation cropping, manuring, and a pattern of enclosed fields were to be found, but in other areas some or all of these were absent. Settlement had expanded: the lateral arrangement of the early period had given way to a more general pattern which included many recently developed areas. The population of the area had increased and burghs were more common, but villages were not yet a feature of the landscape, though their number was increasing. It was still a rural population, the inhabitants living close to the land, a fact reflected in the composition of the territorial divisions. The natural regions of the earlier period had been subdivided, but still retained something of their regionalism, e.g., the Learns, Gowrie, Strathearn were still distinct regions despite their subdivision. In the Dark Ages movement tended to be from west to east, from the Highlands to the lowlands, but prior to and during our period there was a return to the earlier south-west to north-east movement along the strath with a secondary route following the Tay valley and other minor routes branching off to the Highlands. The Highlands adjacent to the strath were now linked more closely to its economic life and local foci were appearing along the Highland edge to serve not only the low ground but also the Highland glens and their hinterlands. The Highlands, however, still maintained a distinctive way of life, but the edge was less of a human boundary than formerly. In all these changes the influence of the physical environment was strong. The distribution of relief and soil, of weather, of drainage and vegetatioín decided where and to what extent the inhabitants were able to develop the district. Gradually, however, their power to adapt their environment increased and by the end of the sixteenth century there were definite signs that they had achieved some measure of control over it. The influence which had largely been one way at the beginning of the thirteenth century was now wotking in two ways, and, although that of the environment over the inhabitants was still the stronger, the other, that of the inhabitants over their environment, was gaining strength. During these centuries were laid the foundations of the agricultural and social organisations which the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries inherited and moulded to their own needs and which eventually led to the landscape and way of life existing in Strathmore and the adjacent Highlands to-day.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available