The Barbarous North? Criminality in Early Modern Scotland

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The notion that Scotland has long been depicted as a lawless, ‘uncivilized’ nation by its more ‘civilized’ southern counterpart is a historical red herring. Rather, it was not until the nineteenth century, when a general moral panic regarding crime and criminal activity took hold across Britain as a whole, that Scotland, in particular, was portrayed as a bad example to its neighbours south of the Tweed. By the mid-nineteenth century, the link between rising crime and social disintegration was strongly felt in a Scottish context. This article discusses the historiography of crime and criminality (including violence) in early modern Scotland. It also examines the extent to which the nineteenth-century concept of the ‘Barbarous North’ was applicable to Scotland during the early modern era. The article analyses nearly 6,500 criminal prosecutions brought before the Scottish Justiciary Court between 1700 and 1830.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Modern Scottish History
EditorsT. M. Devine, Jenny Wormald
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9780191750687
ISBN (Print)9780199563692
Publication statusPublished - 21 Nov 2012
Externally publishedYes


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