'Facebook' of 12th Century Scotland

Published: 27 December 2010

The most comprehensive database ever compiled of any European kingdom’s inhabitants in the central middle ages is to be published online.

The most comprehensive database ever compiled of any European kingdom’s inhabitants in the central middle ages is to be published online.

The multi-faceted database contains information on everyone mentioned in more than 6000 documents from Scotland between 1093 and 1286. It shows not only who they were, but gives an insight into how they related to each other as individuals, as different parts of society, and as Gaels and non-Gaels.

Professor Dauvit Broun, the Principal Investigator, University of Glasgow said:

“The database will allow scholars across the world as well as anyone with an interest in Scottish history to study the people of a medieval kingdom in unprecedented detail.”

“The project focuses on the 12th and 13th centuries as that this is the period when ‘Scotland’ and ‘Scots’ first began to mean what it does today. By the end of this period it seems to have been taken for granted by the king’s subjects that the kingdom consisted of a single country whose inhabitants were a single people: the Scots. But this contrasts with the beginning of this period when the king was thought of as ruling a number of regions and peoples.

“The way Scotland and Scots came to be so radically redefined in this period cannot be explained simply by the deeds of powerful men. Its secret lies in the history of the people at large who created this new identity for themselves and that is what makes this period so fascinating to study. The ‘Paradox’ is that, at the same time, Scotland was becoming more English with Government, church, economy, law, language and culture became much closer to England than before. However, the result was not simply an extension of England in the north. Instead, this new identity was connected umbilically to a self-conscious awareness of Scotland’s status as an independent kingdom.”

The database – located at www.poms.ac.uk - has been produced by the Glasgow-led AHRC-funded project, ‘The Paradox of Medieval Scotland, 1093-1286’ which also includes researchers from Edinburgh and King’s College, London.

The success of the project has attracted further funding from the AHRC for a new three year collaborative project – with researchers from Lancaster, Edinburgh and King’s College, London - developing the database to study cross-border society and Scottish independence during the years 1216–1314.

The project focuses on the period beginning with the failure of Alexander II’s short-lived revival of a ‘Scoto-Northumbrian realm’ in 1216-17, and ending with the formal abolition of cross-border landholding by Robert I in November 1314 following his victory at Bannockburn.

Further information:
Martin Shannon, Senior Media Relations Officer
University of Glasgow Tel: 0141 330 8593

First published: 27 December 2010