The afterlives of Scottish palaces : conservation policy at Scotland's royal palaces

Rights statement
Awarding institution
  • University of Strathclyde
Date of award
  • 2016
Thesis identifier
  • T16159
Person Identifier (Local)
  • 201454887
Qualification Level
Qualification Name
Department, School or Faculty
  • Nineteenth-century Britain witnessed intense debate regarding the treatment of old buildings.This produced a wealth of writing by the architects and activists of the day, spurred the foundation of factional societies, and finally resulted in legislation governing and protecting historic sites. The royal castles and palaces of Scotland made the transition from royal residence, private home, or ruin, to historic monument and tourist attraction during the century following the fiercest discussion, under the jurisdiction of this legislation. Of these, the largest and best preserved are those built in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries by Stewart monarchs: Falkland Palace, Linlithgow Palace, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh Castle, and Stirling Castle. These residences of Scottish monarchs past and present have been subject to a range of conservation approaches, and represent a cross-section of the various ways in which historic buildings present themselves to the public in Britain today. This research investigates the journey these buildings have undertaken, and their transition from ancient residence and military stronghold to modern-day monument and tourist attraction. The study will analyze the ways in which nineteenth-century debates and legislation influenced decisions about conserving these monuments. An analysis of the extensive restorations carried out at Stirling Castle will provide a case-study, adding depth and context to a more general discussion of the other four. Focusing on royal palaces and castles will facilitate examination of the various factors influencing decisions concerning conservation, restoration, and preservation. Because the topic of conservation at the Scottish royal residences has received little attention, the methodology will be heavily based on archival investigation combined with written histories and physical descriptions of the buildings themselves. The work will be informed by an understanding of conservation theory, itself a synthesis of the dual impulses of historicism and antiquarianism. More broadly, this research aims to highlight that, in spite of legislation, conservation of castles is highly variable, sometimes arbitrary, and often not governed purely by historical aims.
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