In medieval Scotland barons probably spent more time, effort and thought on hunting than on any other activity. Although an examination of hunting and hunting organisation in medieval Scotland should contribute towards a fuller picture of medieval Scottish life, this is a little studied aspect of Scottish medieval history. Hunting reserves in medieval Scotland have already been examined by M. L. Anderson, late Professor of Forestry in Edinburgh University, and by W. C. Dickinson, late Professor of Scottish History also in Edinburgh. Professor Dickinson's study regrettably fills only two pages in Volume XX of the Stair Society and Professor Anderson's two-volume study, a History of Scottish Forestry, leaves much unsaid. From the studies of Frankish hunting reserves or forests, as they were called, and of the English forest system carried out by C. Petit Dutaillis, it was evident that there was scope for a fuller historical assessment of hunting reserves in medieval Scotland. In his presidential address to the Scottish History Society in 1975 Professor Barrow pointed the way. The purpose of this book is to provide such an assessment.
Basically such an assessment requires a full description of hunting reserves in Scotland and consideration of several problems relating to that description: firstly, how effectively did hunting reserves fulfil the purpose for which they were created; and secondly, what effect did they have on the lives of the people? The former problem necessitates an examination of the rights which the owner of a hunting reserve claimed within that reserve and the means by which these rights were enforced, and the latter necessitates an examination of economic activity within and around hunting reserves.
The plan of this book has been adapted to its purpose. It is divided into two sections: an introductory chronological narrative followed by an institutional analysis of hunting reserves. The main developments of hunting reserves in medieval Scotland have been placed in the introductory narrative, while the evidence and arguments from which these developments have emerged are given in the institutional analysis. The introductory narrative also contains material not examined elsewhere, such as the origins of hunting reserves in Scotland, comparisons of Scottish and English practices, hunting methods and the remains of hunting parks and lodges.
The institutional analysis is conducted by examining the different types of hunting reserves and their organisation and aims to describe these reserves and assess their effectiveness and the efficiency of their administration. In order to assess the effect of hunting reserves on the people, the position outside reserves is examined in detail in Chapter 12 and the evidence relating to economic activity within and around reserves is assembled in Chapter 14. As the work proceeded, it became clear that it would be necessary to edit the Forest Laws and the resulting edition is placed in Appendix A. Appendix B contains a . . .