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The Central Uplands of Buchan – a distinctive agricultural zone in the thirteenth century: fact or fiction?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 March 2021

Colin Shepherd*
Affiliation:
Honorary Research Fellow, Department of Archaeology, School of Geosciences, University of Aberdeen, Scotland

Abstract

It can be argued, based upon a limited range of surviving evidence, that the land-locked centre of Buchan formed a distinctive upland zone functioning alongside and interwoven with the surrounding lower lands during the thirteenth century. The area can be characterised as less densely settled and engaged in extensive pastoral farming regimes that contrasted with contemporary arable farming of a more intensive nature on the lower-lying lands. Subsequent demographic and agricultural changes have rendered that former environment invisible and the limited documentary sources of the thirteenth century have compounded its mystery. Although a relatively remote upland area, its economy was at least as successful per capita than the rich grain lands surrounding it. Rather than representing a place of secondary importance, it may well have been instrumental in fuelling Aberdeen’s rich thirteenth-century export trade of sheep products to the Low Countries and, perhaps, shared a symbiotic relationship with the lower, arable lands.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press

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