More or less improved? Contrasting rural settlement in Ireland and Highland Scotland

Author(s): Eugene M Costello

Year: 2018


This paper compares the experiences of non-elite communities in Ireland and Highland Scotland, c.1700-1850. Culturally and environmentally, Ireland and (Highland) Scotland are seen to share a number of traits. Irish and Scottish Gaelic are very closed related and were spoken almost universally in rural areas up to the 19th century. Furthermore, much of the west of Ireland is characterised by expanses of peaty upland, which resembles the Highland landscape. Their settlement histories begin to diverge somewhat in the mid-18th century, however. Clearances took place in Highland Scotland, with people often making way for specialised sheep farming and eventually deer and grouse. Whereas Ireland experienced massive population expansion. This paper re-examines these broad historical trends using archaeologically-informed case-studies. It shows that rural populations, and elite landowning families, could participate in very different ways with the phenomenon of capitalistic Improvement in spite of similar cultural and environmental circumstances.

Cite this Record

More or less improved? Contrasting rural settlement in Ireland and Highland Scotland. Eugene M Costello. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2018 ( tDAR id: 441363)


Improvement population settlement

Geographic Keywords
Ireland Western Europe

Temporal Keywords
AD 1700-1900

Spatial Coverage

min long: -10.463; min lat: 51.446 ; max long: -6.013; max lat: 55.38 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 1004