Living on the Level: Horizontally-planned Lodgings in Fifteenth- and Early Sixteenth-Century Scotland

  • Richard D. Oram
  • Architectural Heritage, November 2015, Edinburgh University Press
  • DOI: 10.3366/arch.2015.0066

Living on the Level

What is it about?

The essay explores a little-understood type of lordly residential architecture in late medieval Scotland, the horizontally-planned lodging. Most studies of Scottish late medieval elite residences focus on the well-known 'tower house' type, where accommodation was stacked vertically into a multi-storey structure; this paper examines the evidence for the so-called corps de logis, where accommodation was arranged in horizontally connected suites in usually two-storey buildings. These are traditionally considered to have been an early Renaissance development in Scotland but this paper demonstrates that it was present in Scottish castles - like Bothwell - from the middle of the fifteenth century and was widely developed in royal and lordly residences of the last quarter of that century.

Why is it important?

This paper is a contribution to a wider debate about the nature of elite living in later medieval/early renaissance period Scotland that was initiated by the late Charles McKean. It pushes the Scottish reception and development of the horizontally-planned lodgings that he identified as one of the key expressions of European-inspired elite residential forms back by over half a century into the mid-1400s and reveals that lodgings of this form were an alternative to the multi-storey tower house that has been seen traditionally as the most common expression of Scottish elite living. The paper identifies a series of significant examples of horizontally-planned lodgings blocks that have been under-discussed (the King's Old Building at Stirling and the chamber and hall suite at Castle Campbell) or wholly overlooked (like the south range at Bothwell and the west range at Caerlaverock).


Professor Richard D Oram
University of Stirling

I had the opportunity to explore in this paper something that Charles and I had discussed for a number of years and which we had been planning to produce a joint paper on (about the 15th-century lodging at Ballinbreich Castle in Fife). That paper did not mature but the opportunity to present the general argument in a paper in this memorial volume to Charles and his work has given me the space to present a developed exploration of a much-neglected and poorly-understood building form.

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