The Past Ubiquity and Environment of the Lost Earth Buildings of Scotland


Parkin S & Adderley WP (2017) The Past Ubiquity and Environment of the Lost Earth Buildings of Scotland. Human Ecology, 45 (5), pp. 569-583.

This paper investigates the once ubiquitous vernacular earth-built structures of Scotland and how perceptions of such buildings were shaped and developed through periods of intense cultural and environmental change. We focus upon the past exploitation of traditional resources to construct vernacular architectures and on changes in the perception of the resultant buildings. Historic earth-built structures are today deeply hidden within the landscapes of Scotland, although they were once a common feature of both urban and rural settlements. Whilst the eighteenth and nineteenth century period of Improvement – during which many of these structures were destroyed, repurposed, or left to decay – has received extensive attention by historians, there exists no previous serious study of the human and environmental dimensions. Through analysis of the material aspects of landscape resource use and analysis of the historical perceptions of such use, we emphasize the national significance of this undervalued aspect of Scotland’s built and cultural heritage, increasingly at risk of being lost completely, highlighting the prior ubiquity of mudwall structures.

Earth-building; Turf; Mudwall; Vernacular architecture; Climate change; Scotland; British Isles

Human Ecology: Volume 45, Issue 5

FundersHistoric Scotland
Publication date31/10/2017
Publication date online30/09/2017
Date accepted by journal30/08/2017
PublisherSpringer Nature