Book Chapter

The topography of people’s lives: geography until 1314



Foster S (2007) The topography of people’s lives: geography until 1314. In: Clancy T & Pittock M (eds.) The Edinburgh History of Scottish Literature, Volume 1. From Columba to the Union (until 1707). Edinburgh History of Scottish Literature. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, pp. 44-51.

First paragrap: Societies are much messier than our theories of them, all the more so in this shadowy period of history when Scotland emerges from 9,500 years or so of prehistoric occupation into a time when documentary sources are still few and the extensive archaeological resource is scarcely yet tapped. Inevitably, if somewhat reluctantly, we are often forced to fall back on studying those physical remains that involved a higher investment of human labour and which, if in earth and stone, have best survived the ravages of time. Fortunately, we can be reasonably confident that these will be products of the impact and articulation of the big new ideas that resulted in changes in society, the ones we want to know about. Alas, the finer grain of human existence, particularly that of the disempowered, remains largely elusive. Any overview can be only simplistic, not least given the diversity of human practice.

Title of seriesEdinburgh History of Scottish Literature
Publication date31/12/2007
PublisherEdinburgh University Press
Publisher URL
Place of publicationEdinburgh

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Professor Sally Foster
Professor Sally Foster

Professor, History