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Renaissance and Early Modern History

The Renaissance and Early Modern section’s collections contain objects relating to Scottish history from c.1450-1750.

This period encompasses the cultural developments of the Scottish Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation, and the seismic events of the Union of the Crowns, the Covenanting Revolution, the Anglo-Scottish Union of 1707 and the Jacobite Rebellions of 1715 and 1745.

Collections include decorative arts, jewellery, metalwork, furniture and weaponry, and objects relating to monarchical power, religion, trade and everyday life. Many of our objects were made in Scotland, but others were not, material evidence of the connections between Scotland, Europe and further afield.

Most notable are iconic pieces related to Mary, Queen of Scots, the Stewart kings, the Darien Venture, and the Jacobites. Star items include the Penicuik Jewels associated with Mary, a sword, targe and travelling canteen belonging to Prince Charles Edward Stuart, the awe-inspiring execution device, the Maiden, and the Company of Scotland’s large iron-bound chest related to the Darien Venture, the financially ruinous Scottish scheme to break into the transatlantic slave trade.

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Meet the Team

Dr Anna Groundwater
Dr Anna Groundwater
Interim Keeper and Principal Curator, Renaissance and Early Modern History

Responsible for: The Renaissance and Early Modern section’s collections of the material culture and history of Scotland from c.1450-1750. This encompasses the Scottish Renaissance, applied arts, Scottish weaponry, early modern history, society and culture.

Research interests: The material culture of Renaissance and Early Modern Scotland; the blood feud; networks and communities; Anglo-Scottish relations; public and participatory history; mapping the early modern world; travel writing; cultural exchange and transmission; object biography.


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Ella Paul
Assistant Curator, Renaissance and Early Modern History

Responsible for: Supporting curatorial activity across the Renaissance and Early Modern History section, with particular responsibility for material acquired through the Treasure Trove process, responding to collections-based enquiries and supervising access to the collections.

Research interests: 17th century maritime archaeological collections; Scottish seal matrices c. 1200-1600; post-medieval numismatics.


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