There appears to have been considerable diversity in the vernacular architecture of Perth and Kinross. A range of building materials, including stone, wood, turf, clay, thatch and slate, were widely used across the region throughout the period. There was also significant variety in the ground-plan of many of the post-medieval dwellings and work-spaces in Perth and Kinross. Some recording of vernacular buildings, both standing and ruined, was undertaken by the RCAHMS, particularly in their surveys of the eastern parts of the region (RCAHMS 1990; 1994). However, much more research into vernacular building traditions, including detailed analysis of materials and construction techniques, should be a priority. Historic building recording in advance of development, demolition or conversion may be able to contribute further to this. In particular, there should be a focus on recording and analysing the types of vernacular buildings which are characteristic of the region, such as cruck-framed longhouses, the clay ‘biggins’ (buildings) of the Carse of Gowrie, horse engine sheds, watermills and fishing bothies.
A combination of development pressure, poor maintenance and increasingly extreme weather conditions means that a significant proportion of the region’s vernacular structures are potentially at risk. Even buildings in the care of heritage organisations can suffer damage and deterioration, such as at Cottown Old Schoolhouse (MPK6037; Cox 2006). This significant clay building is in the care of the National Trust for Scotland, which has faced considerable challenges with the property’s maintenance since it was severely flooded in 2011. Other clay buildings in the region may also be vulnerable to the growing prevalence of extreme weather. The Tay Landscape Partnership recorded 147 earth buildings on the Carse of Gowrie with a view to promoting their conservation (2018a and 2018b). However, further recording and study of these potentially fragile structures would be helpful. Alongside the use of mudwall as a geographically focused tradition, the use of earth for plaster, floors and mortars was widespread throughout the region. Traditional earth floors are now especially rare and merit documentation and protection, whilst earth mortars are the subject of ongoing research by Historic Environment Scotland. Both were common at the start of the post-medieval period but very rare by the end; this reflects the transition from local natural materials to commercial industrial construction products.
The 18th and 19th centuries saw major changes to the design and construction techniques used in many buildings in Perth and Kinross. There was a conscious effort, particularly in urban areas and on great estates, to construct buildings which fitted with contemporary expectations of ‘polite’ architecture. To this end an increasingly classically influenced style was adopted, which made much greater use of symmetry and ashlar masonry. Sash windows were also perceived as an essential element in this new style of building. Perth saw especially large-scale redevelopment along these lines. In the 1820s, it was noted that much of Perth had ‘recently been rebuilt and the streets improved and embellished by the erection of handsome modern houses’ making it ‘the neatest and most regular built town in Scotland’ after Edinburgh’s New Town (Wood 1828, 298). Substantial numbers of buildings from this period survive, and most are still used as residential or business properties (McKean 2011). More study of these 18th- and 19th-century standing buildings would be desirable, although the extent of physical intervention is likely to be limited by the fact they are mostly still occupied. Perth also retains significant well-preserved historic shopfronts (Lennie 2008). Further historic shop frontages survive in places such as Aberfeldy, Auchterarder, Dunkeld and Blairgowrie. These are worthy of recording and study, especially as changing fashions in store design mean that shop frontages often undergo relatively frequent alterations.