People of Medieval Scotland 1093-1371

A database of all known people of Scotland between 1093 and 1314 mentioned in over 8600 contemporary documents. It is also being extended to 1371 to include all those lands, peoples and relationships mentioned in royal charters between 1314 and 1371.

Database entry of records relating to 'Gilbert, son of Aldan'
Database entry of records relating to 'Gilbert, son of Aldan'

The People of Medieval Scotland website is an outcome of three projects: The Paradox of Medieval Scotland (2007-2010); The Breaking of Britain (2010-2013); and The Community of the Realm in Scotland (2017-2020), all funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), and the Transformation of Gaelic Scotland in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries (2013-2016), funded by the Leverhulme Trust.

The database contains all information that can be assembled about every individual involved in actions in Scotland or relating to Scotland in documents written between the death of Malcolm III on 13 November 1093 and Robert I's parliament at Cambuskenneth on 6 November 1314. The bounds of the kingdom of the Scots changed during this period; for the sake of consistency, the database covers all the territory that had become part of Scotland by the death of Alexander III. (This means that the Isle of Man and Berwick are included, but Orkney and Shetland are not.) Also, the database is not simply a list of everyone who is ever mentioned. It is designed to reflect the interactions and relationships between people as this is represented in the documents, and results can be viewed via interactive network diagram visualisations and geographical maps.

The database draws on over 8600 documents from this period that are directed by one or more individuals to others (either by name or in general terms). This allows the database to be structured according to the formal aspects of these documents, giving it the potential to be used not only a source of information, but also as a means of investigating the ways in which social relationships were mediated by the documents themselves. This additional dimension is not, however, given in the case of documents which pertain to English administration in Scotland (dated after 10 June 1291 when Edward I was recognised as overlord of Scotland). These documents are treated as a special category in the database, English Royal Administration (ERA).

It is important to bear in mind that this corpus of documents offers only a limited view of society. Some aspects came to be recorded routinely: the database makes it possible to see what these were, when they became routine and the particular types of document involved. Other aspects were only mentioned in passing, if at all, or were taken for granted without being stated in the text. A glossary has been provided to make it easier for beginners to make full use of the database's facilities, and also to allow experts to see how some of the more contentious technical terms have been applied. Although the corpus of documents used for the database represents the vast majority of sources for the history of Scotland in this period, it is important to note that other types of source, notably chronicles, are not included. (The principal Scottish chronicle for the 12th and 13th centuries, The Chronicle of Melrose, is being edited and translated as part of The Breaking of Britain project.)

The great majority of these documents have been published. Where there was a choice of editions, the most modern has been used. The project is particularly grateful to Elsa Hamilton, Cynthia Neville, Norman Shead, and Keith Stringer for making their unpublished editions of significant bodies of charters available. For each document a note is provided to indicate the publication that has been used. In some cases it has been necessary to go back to a manuscript source rather than use an edition.

Project website:

Main contact: Amanda Beam

Developer: Michele Pasin

Start year: 2007

End year: 2016

Funded by: AHRCLeverhulme Trust

Subject area: History

Keywords: Digital CatalogueHistoryMappingVisualisation

Record last updated 2020-01-28