The Ragman Roll, which summarises oaths of fealty made by the Scottish nobility to Edward I
Glasgow University has compiled an online database of more than 21,000 people mentioned in the 8600 documents from Scotland that survive between 1093 and 1314.
People of Medieval Scotland covers documents written from the death of Malcolm III, on November 13, 1093, to Robert I’s parliament at Cambuskenneth, on November 6, 1314.
The database records the activities of notable historic figures such as Robert the Bruce and William Wallace and leading nobles, but it also includes references to thousands of other individuals who were involved in more mundane matters of trade, or in civil cases over the burgeoning issue of property ownership.
It is the first time such details of the wider population of medieval Scotland have been catalogued and made accessible to the public.
In addition to Glasgow, the resource has been collated by King’s College London and the universities of Edinburgh and Lancaster, to help learners of all ages and abilities explore a pivotal period of the nation’s history which saw Scotland’s transformation from a land of patchwork regions to an established kingdom.
The database, which has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, is open to the public and will also include free software specially developed for use in schools.
Special interactive labs will offer history students creative ways to explore the wealth of information stored within the database.
Project leader Dauvit Broun, Professor of Scottish History at Glasgow, said: “The period that these documents cover is one of the most fundamental times in Scotland’s past.
“This was an age where many of the methods and means of governing a country that we take for granted today were evolving and the Scotland of today was being forged.
“Understanding these documents is therefore hugely important in detailing the foundations of modern Scotland and how the name of Scotland and Scots came to apply to a distinct country and people.”
Michael Russell, the Education Secretary, said: “This is a world class resource which will inform current and future historians and members of the public about this important period in Scottish history.
“Learning about our history, languages, literature and culture as well as connecting with Scotland as a place is a vital part of developing a confident, balanced and informed sense of citizenship with perspective on Scotland and our place in the world.
“It is therefore a pleasure to see partnership working between universities, schools and other key organisations to make this wonderful resource accessible throughout Scotland’s education system and beyond.”
Between 1093 and 1314 the growing culture of record keeping meant that systems of royal justice accessible to all freemen had taken root in Scotland.
Coins were being minted in nearly every royal burgh and property rights were recorded via legal charter; royal government practice was also routinely being conducted in writing, with records kept centrally.
This legal revolution also formalised, to a large extent, the borders of modern Scotland, an achievement consolidated in November 1314 at the parliament of Cambuskenneth, where the new Scottish nobility swore fealty to Robert the Bruce.
Developed over the past five years, People of Medieval Scotland also records every time an individual is referenced in a document and the context around this.
By indexing these mentions, the team can cross- reference each appearance and build up an accurate picture of political and social relationships during the period.
The database is at
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