10. Early Modern Period (AD 1600 – AD 1900) and Modern in Argyll (AD 1900 – Present)

Heather James1 and Audrey Horning2

1 Calluna Archaeology, 

2 Archaeology, Geography and Palaeoecology, Queens University Belfast, Belfast, BT7 1NN

With contributions, images, feedback, critical comment and participation at workshops from: Alistair Dawson, Richard Tipping, Mike Cressey, Alex Hale, Piers Dixon and Richard Strachan.

Brief Summary

The present Argyll landscape has seen profound changes since 1600. Early in the period Argyll was a predominantly rural population where multiple families in joint tenancy farms practiced subsistence farming. This then changed to single ownership farms and state owned forests, with the majority of people living in villages and small towns. In the 17th century the clan system was still very strong and conflicts would have had a huge effect on local communities, the economy and settlement patterns.

There was a vast increase in material culture from 17th – 19th centuries. This can be seen in the types and numbers of artefacts, the architectural styles of the period and the creation of gardens and designed landscapes. The first signs of commercialism and capitalism can be seen prior to 1600 in the form of droving and fishing but by the 17th century this manifested itself in agricultural improvements which, in part, led on to the infamous clearances. Other examples of commercial speculation and capital investment can also be seen with the number of industrial sites from this period. This was also a time of improved communications and transport links with drover’s ways, military ways, roads, and canals being put in place which connected people and places and allowed increased and better access to raw materials and industry.

Although there is a mass of information for this period, a considerable amount of multidisciplinary research is still needed to fill the gaps and to synthesise all the important work that has already been undertaken.