Extensive, if fragmentary, evidence survives for the economic networks within medieval Perth and Kinross, as well as the connections between the region and the wider world. Yet much more work could be done to analyse and piece together the various forms of written and physical information which relate to this topic. Late medieval customs records provide a detailed insight into the goods which entered and left the region, usually through the burgh of Perth. Charters can provide insights into the locations of markets and fairs. Market places are also evidenced in the landscape, both in street plans and through markers such as mercat crosses (M Hall 2004). Meanwhile, many types of finds, including animal bones, timber and ceramics, are potentially traceable to their areas of origin, although no isotopic analysis on animal bone has, as yet, been carried out in the area.
Medieval Perth was connected to trading networks which stretched across the North Sea and beyond. Ceramics from England, the Low Countries, France and parts of Germany were found during the Perth High Street excavations (D Hall et al 2012). Finds of fig seeds and walnut shells in Perth provide reminders of links with the Mediterranean (Fraser and Smith 2011, 77). Recent decades have seen increasingly scholarly interest in the connections between Scotland and the wider world, but more detailed mapping and analysis of these links could be undertaken (Fleming and Mason 2019).
There is a great need for more research into the trading and transport networks within Perth and Kinross. The bulk of trade was probably conducted in legally recognised market places, to which goods had to be brought from mostly rural production sites. Similarly major religious houses must have had networks connecting their granges, and indeed any appropriated parishes where teinds were paid in kind, with the main monastic centre. The networks through which royal and aristocratic centres were supplied also deserve further study. The large assemblages of medieval animal bones which survive from Perth and Kinross provide one possible way of beginning to identify these often overlooked connections within the region.
Coinage provides another window onto economic activity. While Scottish sites tend not to produce large coin assemblages, there have been a significant number of individual finds – both excavated and metal detected. Even badly stratified or poorly provenanced coins can tell us a great deal about trading links, the effects of inflation and debasement of coinage, and wider economic disruption in society. Coins were also sometimes used in ritual and symbolic ways, a topic which has received a degree of local study (M Hall 2012; 2016).