Topic: 'The Social, Geographical, and Structural Environments of Minor Noble Castles in Angus, 1449-1542'
Supervisors: Professor Richard Oram and Dr Michael Penman
Katherine (Kate) Buchanan is a 2nd year PhD student at the University of Stirling. Her research project investigates how humans interacted with their surrounding environments, specifically focusing on the created internal and external spaces of late medieval and early renaissance Scottish castles. Though the primary questions ask how these spaces were created to conform to social expectations, the thesis also explores the impact on the structures of dynamic changes within society and the significantly diversified functions that a single site was expected to perform on re-used properties. Assessment of the created space, therefore, must explore user needs and spatial adaptability to changing social functions.
To examine the nobility’s social demands within a specific area and to explore local developments to meet those needs, non-royal castles in the Scottish sheriffdom of Forfar between 1450 and 1542 were chosen as a case study from which to increase understanding of how regional magnates used space in their castles to display and support an image of strong and effective power. This is especially important as this period saw those nobles provide cohesive power in the kingdom during episodes of successive royal minorities. Angus/Forfarshire was chosen because of the environmental range within it – high mountain to low maritime – which allows great breadth of resources managed within the available space to be assessed. Such an assessment will enable a functional relationship between castle residents in Angus and specific types of landscape and resources to be identified within the set social parameters. Most of the case studies have specific connections to properties in other sheriffdoms, which allow this analysis to trace the spatial relationships that developed within the social network of the Scottish nobility, in particular those relationships between lands on the borders of Forfarshire and neighbouring sheriffdoms.
This project is subsequently undertaking a significant amount of historical landscape reconstruction and analysis of access routes using GIS and Spatial Analysis.
Education: B.A. in History (Suma Cum Laude) (2009) at Benedictine College, Kansas USA and M.Res at the University of Stirling (2010) with a dissertation titled ‘Social, Geographical, and Structural Environments of Fourteenth and Fifteenth Century Douglas Castles’
Revealing Records III (2011) at Kings College London
- ‘Tracing Footprints: Assessing Medieval Scottish Castle Landscapes’
The Tower and the Household (2011) at University of Dundee
- ‘The Face of the Household: The Guests’ Experience of the Household in Late 16th Century Scottish Towerhouses’
Leeds International Medieval Conference (2012)
- ‘How to Use a Castle: Environmental Influences on the Nature of Medieval Scottish Noble Hosting and Entertainments’
Urbs Turrita – Towers in Medieval Cities and Towns - Krakow, Poland arakow agen, (Denmark, 2012) Influences on the Nature of the Medieval Scottish Noble Hosting and Entertainments' (2012)
- This land is my land, this land is your land’ :Assessing the use of surrounding landscapes in areas with small urban and castellated developments, Chateau Gaillard 26 , Copenhagen, Denmark (2012)
Co-organised a series of workshops entitled ‘Representations of Scottish Authority’, which is culminating in a two day conference 20 and 21 August 2012, entitled ‘Representation of Authority to 1707: Scotland and her Nearest Neighbours'. This is externally funded by The Strathmartine Trust, the Royal Historical Society, and the Centre for Scottish History.
For the past year she has worked as a research assistant for the Innerpeffray Library Programme run at the University of Stirling and funded by the Delmas Foundation, and has presented some of the findings at SHARP 2012 in Dublin.
Co-leader of ‘On Historical and Political Thought’ the University of Stirling's History and Politics Postgraduate Society