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Coinage, landscape and society in the borderlands: economy, politics and identity in Scotland and northern England, 1136-1603

Last updated: 8 February 2022

About the research

This project departs from traditional museuological numismatic research by seeking to return coins to their original landscape, material and social contexts. The geographical focus of this project will be the borderlands of Scotland and England from the 12th to 17th centuries.

The project will employ and develop a range of innovative methodologies to help facilitate the examination of inter and intra-regional distinctions according to settlement type, political and economic centres, and communication routes. Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) surveying will be two key technical methodologies which will be employed to answer the research questions already identified for the studentship.   

Taking coinage as a key body of material evidence, the student will take account of the political, economic, and sociocultural relationships that developed in this key period of intense nation-building, which was characterised not only by conflict, but by ongoing cross-border contact and exchange.

The project will be guided by a number of key research questions, including:

  • What are the characteristic medieval and post-medieval coin deposition patterns of the border counties of Scotland and England, and how do they compare to national patterns?
  • What role did rural and urban settlements play in trade and exchange in the borderlands?
  • How did religious institutions in the borders affect the use and exchange of coinage?
  • To what extent was the monetary relationship between Scotland and England influenced by political, economic and cultural trajectories?
  • How can theories of border cultures be used to explain the social dimension of coinage and its role in constructing personal, ethnic, regional and national identities? 

Silver coin with James III's head engraved and text around the outside

Silver Groat of James III, the first Renaissance-style coin portrait outside of Italy, minted in Edinburgh, c.1485

Doctoral research project details

Project title

Coinage, landscape and society in the borderlands: economy, politics and identity in Scotland and northern England, 1136-1603


Carl Savage

Project active

2018 - present


AHRC Scottish Cultural Heritage Consortium (SCHC) – Collaborative Doctoral Partnership

University of York Supervisors

Dr Aleksandra McClain and Dr Steve Ashby - Department of Archaeology

National Museums Scotland Supervisors

Dr Alice Blackwell and Dr Anna GroundwaterScottish History & Archaeology

Research theme

Scotland's Material Heritage

Email icon Dr Alice Blackwell

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