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Settlement on the Western Seaboard c. AD300-800: Dalriada and North Uist

Ewan J. Innes, MA(Hons Scot. Hist.) FSA Scot

© 1993

Synopsis:  This essay describes the settlement patterns on the western seaboard of Scotland from AD300-800.

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Detailing the origins and development of the shire, the thane, the sheriff, and the sheriffdom in Scotland from their earliest instances into the beginning of the thirteenth century is a difficult task due to the unclear nature of much of the evidence. While work has been done on the thane and the thanage and to a lesser extent the shire, little is known in depth about the early sheriff and sheriffdoms beyond the names of the early sheriffs and their sheriffdoms. The aim here is to try and bring together the evidence relating to the various institutions, and see where and why they developed in Scotland. To understand the ultimate development in Scotland of these institutions, we have to look to their origins in England and in particular the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of Wessex and Mercia.

By the beginning of the eleventh century, England south of the Tees had been divided into shires, each of which formed a unit in the national administrative system. Except where Danish influences still prevailed, each shire was divided into smaller units called hundreds, for the setting of taxation, the maintenance of peace and order and the settlement of local pleas (see map I). This system had originated in the kingdom of Wessex, which by the end of the eighth century had been divided into shires. These shires were organised in dependence upon a particular town or royal estate which was defensible, and from which the name derived.1

A corresponding system is not known to exist in the independent kingdom of Mercia. The Mercian evidence points to a later introduction of the Wessex system there, with the the eastern half having shires representing the areas controlled by individual Danish armies between which it had been divided, with subdivisions known as wapentakes (vápnatak), while the western half operated a system similar to Wessex, which was in existence by 980, although whether imposed during the reigns of Edward the Elder or his grandson Edgar the Elder is open to question.

The dominance of Wessex made the establishment of a uniform pattern of local administration throughout southern England possible generally without respect for ancient divisions. The midland shires in particular, have an air of artificiality about them. Many of these shires were formed by dividing lands long held by different tribes. Shropshire, for example, was formed from the lands of the Magonsætan and the Wreocensætan. Warwickshire represented the eastern part of the Hwicce kingdom and the Mercian lands south of the Arden. That these divisions occurred bears witness to a strong king indifferent to local tradition. It was Stenton’s opinion that Edward the Elder was the most probable candidate for the creation of the midland shires.2

With the gradual unification of England, the shire system spread north. The establishment of Yorkshire, the largest and last shire, brought the advance to a halt and a north/south split in systems with England south of the Tees divided into shires while the counties north of the Tees, Durham, Northumberland, Westmorland, Cumberland and the northern part of Lancashire contained no hundreds, wapentakes or shires of the southern form.

While the recorded history of most of the manorial estates of southern and western England does not begin until after 1066, we can infer from what we know that their character had not changed much in the century or so before the conquest. The custom of granting land out by kings or other great nobles to their household and in particular the retainer of noble birth - the thegn - as a reward for service was of long standing by the time of the conquest and had resulted in the creation of the first private lordships.

The position of thane originates in the society of Anglo-Saxon England. In the seventh century, the holder of this position was known as a gesith, literally the kings companion, with a rank above that of the peasant or ceorl, and with a wereguild of 1,200 shillings. The later change in name did not mean an alteration in status or in the relationship to the lord, with the wereguild remaining at 1,200 shillings, and with the rank becoming hereditary.

By 1066, many of the thegn holdings had been subdivided amongst sons into a number of very small holdings, held as ‘manors’ by thegns who were by this stage little better off than peasants. On the other hand there were other thegns with estates valued at five hides, and with specific duties in the kings household and with particular assets on the land.3 While many important followers of William were not well endowed, many of Edward’s thegns were still holding inherited estates some indeed holding land on a large scale in many different shires.

The thegn was important in Anglo-Saxon society for the role they played in government. The word thegn originally meant ‘one who serves another’, which like the meaning of gesith, marked a personal rather than social relationship, the standing of a thegn was based more on who his lord was than anything else. The leading thegns serving the king himself. These thegns attended court and would fill its offices in rotation. They kept the king in touch with the goings on in the country and could be used for many functions should the king desire it.4

The king’s thegns were a very important and wealthy class5 as were the thegns of the great earls. These thegns were seen as vitally important in any political crisis as evidenced by a measure of Edward the Confessor where the thegns of earl Godwine were to find surety that they would become the king’s own men.6 Thegns of the king were also allowed to have thegns of their own, and evidence from the Doomsday book shows that there were also considerable numbers of these lesser thegns with small holdings. While they might be on a par economically with the peasantry, these thegns were sharply distinguished socially from even the highest ranks of the peasantry.

That there were two types of thegn is brought out by the Doomsday book, here were detailed the tenant thegns of both ecclesiastical and lay magnates. They were however, probably outnumbered by thegns holding inherited land and owing service to magnates of their own choice. There were many thegns who were declared incapable of either giving or selling their land without the leave of their lord, while there were others accorded the right of alienation. It appears that the thegn who could alienate his land had come to it through inheritance and had placed himself under a lord; while those with inalienable land had come to it through a gift by a lord.

That many thegns and free men were willing to give themselves to a lord shows the changing structure of English society even before the conquest. The accumulation of estates by a small number of powerful families had reduced the role of the lesser thegns and also widened the gap between the richer and poorer branches of this class. The new relationship was purely one of personal arrangement in many different forms. Moreover, there was nothing to stop a man from linking himself with more than one man.7

Turning to government, we can see that public authority in secular government in the generation or so before the conquest was derived ultimately from the crown. The earls who filled the political stage were officers of the king’s appointment, although despite this, many of the great houses had risen in power, through inheritance, to a position which was almost invulnerable to action by the king. Although a revolt within an earldom or by its holder could enable the king to demonstrate that the earl was in his position by royal grant.

Within the shires, the earl possessed an authority and influence which put him above even great local magnates. By virtue of his office, he was entitled to lead the shire militia and it was also expected that both he and the diocesan bishop would sit as joint presidents of the shire court, where they were generally addressed by name in royal writs. The earl’s fundamental duty was to be the king’s representative in the region under his control, a political rather than an administrative function.

The century before the conquest saw a huge expansion in the provincial government, and the corresponding increase in the political importance of their holders. National politics between the accession of King Æthelred and the death of King Edward tended to detach the earl from the district under his charge. This meant that a new officer was required in local government, one who would be more familiar to to individual landowners than either the ealdorman or the earl had been. This position was filled by the appointment in each shire of a reeve -the scir gerefa- who was chosen by the king and responsible to him alone for the administration of local finance, the execution of justice and the maintenance of the custom which governed the shire (see map II).

It was probably as the guardian of the king’s interests that the sheriff first came to prominence on the shire court. As the financial representative of the king, he was directly concerned with the collection of the profits of justice, and due to the relationship between the king and sheriff, his opinion must have had weight when he spoke in pleas. He would, in the absence of the earl, have a good claim for the joint presidency of the court, and owing to the probable irregular attendance of the greater earls would probably have transacted much of the business of the shire court.

We have seen thus far the situation as existed in the south and midlands of England, we must now look at what was happening in the north of England to get a full picture from which to judge the development of the various institutions in Scotland. The situation in the north of England has many parallels for our study of the Scottish institutions, however understanding society in the north of England is fraught with problems.

The evidence of the Doomsday book is in many areas inadequate as it did not cover several of the the northern shires and, in those that it did deal with, the evidence is sketchy. The evidence, as it exists, has been the subject of study both by local historians and also the more scholarly heavyweights such as Maitland, Jolliffe and Stenton, in more recent years, Barrow and Roffe have added their weight to the study.

Much of the attention of these historians was taken up with the survival of institutions after the conquest. Maitland was the first to look at the situation, although his arguments are not completely accepted. Stenton had, in his look at the manorial structure of the Northern Danelaw,8 opened up the study of Northumbrian society through his idea of the Yorkshire moat. Henceforth, Northumbria did not have to be studied in conjunction with the Yorkshire Domesday records and Yorkshire did not have to be studied in relation to the north and west. Stenton thus enabled the study of Northumbrian institutions to get underway without the problems of squaring evidence to Domesday.

Jolliffe took advantage of this and it is to him that we must look for the first clear picture of northern society. Jolliffe’s main précis was that the manor did not exist in Northumbria and Lancashire prior to the conquest,9 the vill being the basis for northern society. Jolliffe had argued, after an investigation of the obligations borne by the peasants, that desmesne cultivation was impossible due to the nature of the obligations. On the eastern coast the main obligation was in renders of grain, malt, and chickens for feasts, pannage and cornage. These services were classed as forinsec as they were not to a desmesne or manor house but to a lord’s hall. Jolliffe called an area where a group of vills supported a central desmesne with labour services and formed a jurisdictional unit a "shire" and argued that this system was general throughout the old Northumbrian kingdom in 1066 except for the areas of Yorkshire destroyed by the Danes.10

Ultimately, Jolliffe, based on his comparison with Welsh and Northumbrian customs, was to conclude that the Northumbrian institutions had been influenced by the Celts.11 To bring the early evidence in line with later material on the shire, Jolliffe combined these Celtic influences with the notion that the Normans had truncated the original shires after 1066.12

The similarities between Scottish and Northumbrian society have been brought out by Barrow in various articles.13 He showed that not only in Lothian and the Merse -where we would expect to find Northumbrian similarities- were there similarities, but in west Lothian, eastern Stirling, and generally up the east coast, thanes constituted the native nobility below the earls, holding land called shires in fee-farm from the king.14

The revenues which the king of Scots had the right to collect tended to support this case, with their parallels in Wales and the North of England. Throughout Scotia and the lands of the defunct kingdom of Strathclyde, the king received cain either every year or once every couple of years. This consisted of cows, pigs and cheese in the west and Barrow drew a comparison to the Northumbrian cornage. Also, the king of Scots collected coneveth, consisting of feasts owed to the king by the populace, similar to the feasts owed by the bondage vills in Northumbrian and Lothian under the name of waiting. By proposing a link between the cain and coneveth of the king of Scots, the cornage and waiting of the king of England, the commorth and gwestfa of the Welsh Princes’ and the pecunia and acconeuez of the king of Man, Barrow was suggesting a common system of extensive royal lordship, by implication from Scotia to Kent.15

There is doubt about this for two reasons. Firstly, the comparisons of customs is extremely overgeneralised and ignores several key problems. There are important differences between cain (principally grain) and cornage (cattle) and there was in fact a parallel system of grain render in existence in Northumbria.16 Secondly, the comparisons between the areas are based on Jolliffe, if he was wrong then the comparison could well be skewed. That is indeed what appears to be the case. Jolliffe created an artificial, primitive, essentially frozen system with no mechanism for change by forming his opinions working from the bottom of society up, in the process, he missed out an important body of people, "the lords of the shire", the men who actually held the shires.

In this case Kapelle may well be right that the one dimensional nature of Jolliffe and later writers stemmed from Stenton’s idea of the Yorkshire moat.17 An idea which is as convenient as it is artificial, allowing as it does Northumbrian historians to argue their case without reference to the Yorkshire Domesday and Danelaw Historians to give Danish origins to any institution without reference to the situation north of the Tees.

The question of the structure of society in the Danelaw has been touched on earlier in this essay, a few more words are I feel necessary at this juncture to spell out the situation and the ramifications which it has for studying the Scottish institutions. The Yorkshire moat idea is based on the précis that Eastern England appears to be different to the western Midlands and Wessex as described in Domesday, with in the particular characteristic of the soke and the sokemen. Moreover, the Danish had a huge impact on place-names, customary law and personal names in the Danelaw. The problem with this is that there is no evidence what impact the Danes had in their areas before 1066. So, even if eastern England appears different in 1066, we don’t really know if this area was distinctive in any way before the arrival of the Danes, especially as Northumbria is not described in Domesday.18

Key then, is the degree to which the soke was a Danish creation or a native institution which survived the Danish invasions. Sokes were essentially estates consisting of a main village with dependent pieces of land called berewicks and sokelands. The larger sokes covered wide areas and berewicks and sokelands could be either whole or parts of a village. Clear parallels can be drawn between the soke and the Northumbrian shire, yet they were not made because, according to Stenton, the soke was Danish. Stenton believed in a widespread settlement of the men of large Danish armies as:

"It was almost inevitable that the rank and file of this army, who are known to have kept their military organisation long after they had turned from war to agriculture, should group themselves upon the soil under the leaders who had brought them to England. There is every probability in a view which sees in such grouping the origin of the sokes characteristic of the Danish shires."19

Domesday could therefore be taken at face value as describing a society fundamentally altered by the Danish invasions, despite the lack of evidence.

This view was accepted by most people, including Jolliffe,20 although he was later to change his mind concluding that sokes and Northumbrian shires were analogous institutions based on ancient royal dues.21 Curiously, a view to be subsequently ignored by most people. Recent work has tended to support the idea that the territorial soke was either an Anglo-Saxon or Anglo-Celtic institution. Sawyer has shown that the Danish armies numbered hundreds rather than thousands of men and also how they could influence place-names and the law as the Danes did.22 Davis thought that the soke was probably much like the Northumbrian shires, the Kentish lathes or Welsh commotes but blurred due to commutation of renders and royal grants.23

Using Davis’s definition of soke, Barrow postulated that there was no difference between the soke of East Anglia and those in the northern Danelaw. Therefore, the Danes could not have created them as they represented localised examples of a once common system throughout eastern England and Scotland.24 Clearly then, on recent evidence we should regard Northumbria and Yorkshire as having similar institutions and can therefore make analogies between the two.

The Northumbrian shire therefore, was nothing more than the arbitrary administrative district for the support of the Northumbrian kingdom.It acted as the mechanism for the extraction, for the king, of food and later labour from the peasants. Meanwhile, a similar system in origin operated below the Tees before replacement by either hundreds or wapentakes.

To recap the evidence, we have seen that from Kent to Northumbria and into Scotland, there was a common system of royal lordship based upon a unit of land known variously as lathe, soke, shire and also manerium cum appendiciis25 which survived long enough into the eleventh and twelfth centuries to be traceable. Associated with the management of the soke and shire was a class of freemen also with a wide variety of descriptors including sokemen, drengs and thegns.26 In Scottish Northumbria, the free population were addressed as both thegns and drengs in the first half of the twelfth century as were their counterparts in English Northumbria.27

Looking to Scotland then, it is possible, in the light of the English evidence, for us to trace and examine the shires. Unsurprisingly, there is evidence of shires in Scottish Northumbria and into Lothian. There is evidence that Tynninghame in East Lothian was a shire by 1094. Shires were also based on Ecclesmachan (West Lothian), Cadzow, Carluke and Renfrew and Mearns.28 In the southwest, the term shire was not used, although as we have seen there is evidence of a system where tribute was brought to centres of power.

North of the Forth, a similar situation existed. When Alexander I died in 1124, he founded a new chapel in Stirling endowing it with teinds from his desmesne in the soke (also known as shire) of Stirling.29 Within the shire of Stirling were recorded tenants classified as hiredmen, bonders, and gresmen- all familiar terms from the north of England.30 The shire of Stirling was later to become the basis of the later sheriffdom- much as the other shires would do.

In Scotia, there are many recorded shires, although generally smaller than those in Northumbria, due almost certainly to the nature of the area.31 These shires tend to be confined to the east and plains of Scotia and not in the west or more upland areas.32

The manager of the shire tended to be the thane, there were others whose duties were to manage desmesne land for their overlord: administering it, leading its inhabitants in battle, supervising justice and paying the renders due from it to the king or earl.33 The granting to feudal barons -where they replaced thanes- of jurisdiction of sake, soke, toll, team, infangtheif, pit and gallows in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, points to the role played by the thane in justice with the aid of the judex.

The time scale involved with the introduction of the institutions of the ‘shire’ and the ‘thane’ is important here. These two words shared a common origin with England and cannot have come into use in Scotland until at least the beginning of the tenth century at a time of Anglian influence.34 There is no clear evidence about the time of the adoption of the word ‘scir’, although given the interrelation of the two terms they must come into use about the same time.

If as Grant suggested,35 the introduction of the thane was a step along the road of increasing royal power, who should we attribute it’s introduction to? Certainly, Kenneth II (971-95) had witnessed the various aspects of Anglo-Saxon kingship at its height, or do we look to Malcolm II (1005-34) for the innovation. That he was an innovator is clear, he succeeded in diverting the main rival line of kingship into the mormaership of Fife, he extended Scottish power south after his victory at Carham in 1018 and he went against custom by making his daughters son his successor. Cowen showed that he was also regarded as ‘King of the Mounth’ ruling both north and south of it unlike his predecessors.36 Interestingly, John of Fordun associated the origins of the thanage to Malcolm stating:

"From Ancient times indeed kings had been in the habit of giving to their knights greater or smaller tracts from their own lands in feu-ferme, a portion of some province or a thanage. For at that time almost the whole kingdom was divided up into thanages. He [Malcolm II] apportioned these lands to each man as he saw fit either for one year, or for a term of ten or twenty years or life with at least one or two heirs permitted, as in the case of certain freemen and gentlemen, and to some likewise (but these only a few) in perpetuity, as in the case of knights, thanes and magnates, with the restriction however that each should make a fixed annual payment to the lord king."37

Is Fordun’s association with Malcolm a coincidence or is it a reflection of folk history which had come down to him?

At the upper level of pre-feudal Scotland’s Gaelic community there were the mormaer and the toísech; the mormaer became anglicised to earl and the toísech would therefore be expected to become the thane, although not every toísech was a thane.38 Jackson noted that a distinction should be made between the two concepts of toísech where "the Anglo-Saxon thane" was "borrowed and accommodated with a vaguely appropriate Gaelic title".39 Given that the many recorded names of the early thanes are generally Gaelic in origin,40 we can see how this happened. We should see therefore, the thane and local landlords existing side by side, with both having the status of toísech.

The records which survive provide a list of some 48 thanages and 23 places which had or almost certainly had thanes (see maps III & IV). The evidence for them is in general of thirteenth and fourteenth century origin but as there are unlikely to have been any created after David I came to the throne, these later references point to their existence in or before the time of David I. Although there were probably considerably more in existence at that time. As map III shows, thanages were confined almost entirely to eastern Scotia, between the Moray Firth and the Forth, the area which was held and controlled by the MacAlpins in the tenth and eleventh century. In the north and west there is only Dingwall, which may have been incorporated into Scotland earlier than the 1060s. South of the Forth, there are territories which bear similarities to those north of the forth. Despite the several shires however, there are only thanes found at Callendar and Haddington.

Looking at map III we can see that the thanages coincide to a great degree with the early earldoms of northern Scotland. While earls could have thanes, there are few instances of this and it would appear that most of the thanages were in royal hands in the early twelfth century. As we can see they cut a swathe through all of the northern earldoms from Fife to Moray. In the case of Moray, there is a problem regarding whether the thanages belonged to the crown or to the mormaers and earls of Moray before the forfeiture of the earldom in 1130.41

The thanes were essential to the smooth running and consolidation of the early Scottish kingdom. Their role in the delivery of either cain or coneveth (in the case of royal thanes both were given) was essential. Grant showed the extent to which coneveth involved the delivery of large quantities of cattle and food -including in one case over eight tons of cheese.42 This facilitated a peripatetic style of kingship, essential to ensure political power within the kingdom. The thanages from Fife to Moray certainly provided this and thus it could be claimed that they were the catalyst for the consolidation and extension of royal power, especially between the Forth and the Mounth.

When David I came to the throne, the thane did not lose out to any royal policy of endowing Normans with thanages. One thanage was given to the church while Haddington was alienated briefly as part of the dower for Ada de Warenne his son’s wife. As Barrow has shown, David I managed to maintain "the balance of new and old"43 with the thane an extremely significant representative of the old.

The thanage was to have a role in post-feudal Scotland. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries as feudalism north of the Forth gathered pace, the thanage, while losing importance, became the base for the introduction of the sheriffdom (see map IV). Outside Moray, over half of the twelfth and thirteenth century sheriffdoms were based upon thanages. It could be said that the sheriff while superior to the thane was not actually carrying out a role much different to that which the thane had been doing. Perhaps there is a case for Grant’s "super-thane" idea rather than the imposition of a new agent of government.44

The thanages of Scotland had a remarkably long life span. Of the 71 known thanages, 41 survived intact into the fourteenth century. Of the others, 14 were alienated by the crown to lay landlords between the reigns of Malcolm IV and Alexander III45, and 4 were alienated to the church by Malcolm IV46, William I and Alexander II. While it was fairly common for thanages to be slimmed down47, in a few cases they were cut back to a point at which they ceased to exist (see map IV).48

This points to an interesting situation. It is clear that the thanages were not swept away as a result of feudalism. Indeed, there were only two cases of outright and permanent alienation to members of the new ‘Norman’ families.49 In general, the alienations of thanages tended to be to close members of the king’s kin,50 with some grants only temporary.51

Where then did the land come from with which the incoming Normans were endowed? Barrow suggested that after Moray was forfeited, the comital lands were used for feudal grants there, while the existing royal thanages were held by the crown.52 In the rest of Scotland north of the Forth, the same pattern does tend to hold true.53

If the thanage survives into the fourteenth century, does the thane? The answer seems to be not necessarily. By the thirteenth century it was not a prerequisite for a thanage to be run by a thane. Where a sheriffdom was based on a thanage, the sheriff no doubt took over the thane’s duties (except in Aberdeen where there was both a sheriff and a thane). Magnates could also replace thanes without the feudal grant of the thanage, although this did not generally occur. It seems to be the case that whilst the thane lost his role as the crown’s main local representative, he still maintained a function within the locality.54 These functions, supervising the payment of teind, swearing not to harbour or assist criminals, recruiting and performing common army service, and suit at the sheriff court point to men who were part of an heritable landowning society, with all of the pluses and minuses involved.55

While the thanage no doubt meant the territory of a thane at the end of the twelfth century, during the thirteenth century, the terms diverged to such an extent that by the end of the thirteenth century we can find thanages run by sheriffs, feu-fermers -both lay magnates and ecclesiastical institutions- and fermers as well as by thanes. The crown would not mind who ran them however so long as they still received the revenue expected from them. A revenue which by the end of the thirteenth century was considerable.56

The thanage as an institution lasted into the fourteenth century when it received a mortal blow. The land policy of Robert I, meant the granting out of vast areas of land including many of the thanages, especially in Moray.57 The subsequent alienation of land by subsequent kings and the economic problems of the later fourteenth century would ensure the thanage’s demise.58

We have remarked already, that thanages were sometimes replaced at a later date by sheriffdoms, we should look therefore at these institutions and see their development. By the end of the twelfth century, the introduction of the sheriffdom had still to be completed. Although an artificial crown creation, the boundaries of the sheriffdoms coincided with the boundaries of other older administrative districts, and thanages. The reason for this must surely lie in the kin-based society into which the sheriffdom was thrust. It was impossible to ignore the kin and their territory in this respect, therefore the bounds of the sheriffdom never cut across kindred territorial bounds.

The earliest sheriffdom which we know of south of the Forth is possibly Haddingtonshire.59 This was controlled by a thane in David’s reign and had, probably before, but certainly by, 1184 become a sheriffdom.60 This sheriffdom, in conjunction with the later sheriffdoms of Linlithgow and Edinburgh was later to coalesce to form the sheriffdom of Edinburgh.61 Between David I and William I, there were several sheriffdoms created in the south of Scotland. The pace of their creation seems to have fairly slow if not ponderous - there was no sudden introduction of Anglo-Norman institutions in Scotland, so it proceeded at a pace to suit the situation on the ground.

Other sheriffdoms in the south before 1200, include Berwick, created by 1139. Lanark was created at some point during the reign of Malcolm, and was in existence by 1162.62 There was a sheriffdom at Traquair in 1184, which by 1233 had combine to form the sheriffdom of Peebles.63 The sheriffdoms of Ayr, Carrick and the district of Cunningham also combined to form a larger unit based on Ayr by the late thirteenth century.64 There was also a sheriffdom at Selkirk created during the reign of William I.65

North of the Forth, we have in David’s reign the sheriffdoms of Stirling, Stirlingshire and Callendar which were later to combine to form the sheriffdom of Stirling.66 The smallest and most unusual in that respect was the sheriffdom of Clackmannan which had been created a sheriffdom by the end of David’s reign. Exactly why this sheriffdom failed to undergo any form of coalescing is something of a mystery.67 The thanages of Kinross and Cromarty were turned into sheriffdoms, certainly by the late thirteenth century and possibly before.68 There were sheriffdoms created at Scone at some point between 1128 and 1136,69 Perth between 1147 and 1153,70 Forfar between 1162 and 116471 and Kincardine in the Mearns at some point between 1165 and 1178.72 Aberdeen and Banff were created about 1136.73 In Moray there were a number of sheriffs by the reign of William, although exactly where they were sheriffs is not clear.74

Large areas of Scotland south of the Forth were clearly outside the system by the end of the twelfth century although by the end of the next century much had been done to remedy this situation (see map V). Moreover, there is no evidence of any subdivision along the lines of the hundred or wapentake. The sub-divisions tended to be the smaller units which had formed the larger sheriffdom. The Scottish sheriffdom then, was not an exact replica of its English counterpart, it was a system, modified by the society into which it had been placed.

To turn then to the sheriff, we have seen how the sheriffdoms north of the forth tended to be based around thanages. The origins of his office were as like that of the thane, to be found in England. We have seen in our earlier look at the Anglo-Saxon institutions,75 that the sheriff had gained an important position, as the king’s representative and judicial officer. He was, by the eleventh century, at once the judicial, financial, administrative and military officer of the crown. When the Normans came in, they adopted the institution of the sheriff as they found it finding parallels with their similar office of Vicomte. As the chancery moved over to Latin, the sheriff became the Vicecomes and the sheriffdom the Vicecomitatus. As time went by, the sheriff remained an Anglo-Saxon institution, but was modified to fit in with the practices of the time.

To the Normans, the sheriffdom was more important than the Anglo-Saxon earldoms in which they were based. Consequently, the old earldoms were abolished, making the earl less of an official and more of a private lord holding no public duties unlike his predecessor. The development of separate ecclesiastical courts left the sheriff in sole possession of the shire court, and hence he soon became the only representative of the kings government in the shire. In order to ensure that the sheriff was respected by the magnates of the shire, he tended to be of baronial rank, and by holding the position of sheriff he enhanced his position -and was also to become the chief expression of Norman oppression. As Morris showed:

"The greater power and prestige of the Norman as compared to the Anglo-Saxon sheriff are evident. No longer was he a man of moderate means, overshadowed by the nobility and prelates of the shire; on the contrary, he was often himself the greatest man in all his region and not infrequently a benefactor of the church. Since no official superior stood between him and the king, he enjoyed great freedom of action. As a baron and a personal adherent of the king, he combined the prestige of a local magnate and the status of a trusted official."76

This was the situation which David I saw at work in England. To David the sheriff must have been very important, after all, here was a crown appointed official, in close proximity and relation to all sections of the population in the localities. The sheriff, as with the thane, was to be the means of extending and consolidating royal power to throughout Scotland. There is little doubt that David introduced the sheriff to Scotland and therefore we would expect to see some form of connection between the introduction of the sheriff and the existing society. As the sheriffdom adapted to the existing society, so we would expect the sheriff to adapt.

To see how David introduced the sheriff in Scotland, it is instructive to look at who the first sheriffs were. Of the 19 earliest sheriffs which we have on record, 11 were native Scots,77 4 were probably native,78 and 4 were definitely incomers.79 In no case was the first sheriff appointed an incomer. This last point is important. For the four incoming sheriffs to get the post, they must have lived within the sheriffdom and become accepted by that time. It made sense for David and his successors to appoint men with local knowledge.

The rank to which the sheriffs belong is important to look at next. The three upper grades of society, in Scotland, north of the Forth can be summarised thus:

East West South
Gaelic Latin Scots Gaelic Latin Scots
rex king rex king
mormaer comes earl dominus lord
toísech thanus thane rí / toísech dominus laird


because the area north of the Forth-Clyde line was conquered by the Scots, it became more centralised than Dalriada, this may well account for the fact that by the twelfth century, there were more crown officials there than in the west.

To the south of the Forth-Clyde line, it is difficult to see what is happening very clearly due to the paucity of evidence. It is a question of whether the offices are coming south from Scotia or north from Northumbria. As we have seen, it was often the thane / toísech who became the sheriff north of the Forth, while in south, the evidence also points to this third grade as the one from which the sheriff was chosen.

The reasons for this are twofold. David had seen that the baronial sheriff was becoming to powerful in England and so chose to use the next rank to ensure their loyalty to the crown. Secondly, while it would seem a more obvious choice to have the brithem as the sheriff, (after all, these hereditary lawmen had the knowledge and legal standing to take on that side of the sheriffs responsibilities) they were themselves, despite having the the privileges of a noble, not noble. Moreover, the legal side of the sheriffs responsibilities was not so important in the twelfth century.

Evidence of the rank of the sheriff within society can be drawn from both north and south of the Forth. In Haddingtonshire, we have seen that there was a sheriff in 1184 and that it was administered by a thane before that. North of the Forth, we have seen that thanes became sheriffs with their thanages becoming sheriffdoms. Where a district was too small and amalgamation took place, the most important sheriff ruled the new larger unit with the subordinate sheriffs becoming his deputies.80 A brieve of William I relating to the payment of teinds also shows the grade of sheriff north of the Forth. Here a defaulting villanus was to be compelled to pay by the toísech, should the toísech default, he was to be compelled to pay by the sheriff with a penalty of 8 cows, a defaulting sheriff was to be compelled by the justiciar and also pay a penalty of 8 cows. The sheriff therefore was equal to the toísech in his private capacity.

There is not much evidence of the functions which the sheriff carried out in Scotland. Later evidence of the sheriff can be traced back to give us an idea of the general duties of the sheriff. There were three head courts held at the caput of the sheriffdom each year which were summoned publicly with 40 days notice. In addition, there were lesser courts which were held elsewhere within the sheriffdom, in some instances at the caputs of the constabularies of the sheriffdom, once the centres of the smaller amalgamated sheriffdoms.81

The sheriff court was composed of the local landowners who owed suit to the court in respect of their land. The suitors were there to decide on a judgment either as a jury or as a whole body. At the end of the thirteenth century, the sheriff did not have the judicial role which he was later to hold.

The sheriff was essentially an executive officer, addressed by name in charters, he witnessed royal documents, received royal brieves, and perambulated the marches if there was a dispute. In this respect he is not any different to his Anglo-Norman counterpart, where he seems to differ is in the military role appointed to him. There are slightly conflicting ideas about this. Dickinson pointed to the Scottish sheriff’s military role. He noted the references in the exchequer rolls at the time of the invasion by Haakon of Norway to the building works of sheriff of Inverness, the inventory of arms of the sheriff of Roxburgh, the watchmen appointed by the sheriff of Stirling and the stores of bolts, quarrels and oars provided by the sheriff of Ayr.82

In Scotland clearly, the sheriff had a logistical as opposed to an offensive role in military matters. In combination with the thane he made sure that all members of the locality were prepared for campaign if required to under Scottish service. It may have been the earl who led them in battle, but it was the sheriff who made sure that they would be effective when they got there. Dickinson may be missing the mark when he states:

"In England the sheriff was the leader of the local levy from the earliest times, but when such a system was introduced into Scotland, or when the earl ceased to be the local military leader (a position always accorded to him in the Sagas) we cannot say."83

As the sheriff was a crown appointee, the crown had to have a method of controlling him. In consequence the crown appointed justiciars to oversee the work of the sheriff. These justiciars, modelled on the English justice, were appointed to Scotia, Lothian and Galloway, and their earliest reference comes from the reign of Malcolm IV84 - although it is probable that as David introduced the sheriff, he also introduced his supervisor. As the justiciar would be the next in rank behind the king, it is not surprising to find that the justiciars were invariably the great magnates, often hereditably,85 while in England the justice was a legally trained man of middle rank.

The sheriff in Scotland, as a man simply slipping into established society with little more than a change of name was not, in contrast to England, seen as a representative of alien oppression. The hereditary nature of the sheriffs office soon led to it becoming increasingly bound up with magnates holding the office of sheriff. By the thirteenth century earls were holding sheriffs offices hereditably.

In conclusion, we have seen how Anglo-Saxon and Celtic institutions were taken up by the early Scottish kings and modified to meet the conditions in Scotland. As time went on these institutions were used to extend and consolidate royal power in the localities. The different roles undertaken by the thane, the sheriff and the shire and thanage were vitally important to this. The strength of the early medieval Scottish kings was that they could rely on a strong base in the localities derived from the thanages and later the sheriffdoms, which was why they were loathe to alienate them. In contrast, the weakness of the later Stewart kings could, amongst other things, be put down to weakness because they had alienated their strongholds in the localities.

Ewan Innes, April 19 1994


  1. See Stenton, Anglo Saxon England, pp. 336
  2. Ibid., pp. 339
  3. Ibid., pp. 487; Liebermann, Gesetze, i, pp. 456. This included a church, bell-house, and a fortified dwelling place.
  4. Ibid., pp. 488
  5. Many kings saw the maintenance of the thane reflected honour on the throne and strove to maintain the status of the thane. A law of Cnut stated that the heirs of a king’s thane were required to give him four horses, two with saddles, two swords; four spears and shields; a helmet, a corslet, and fifty mancuses of gold, before they could inherit.
  6. Liebermann, Gesetze, i, pp. 456; Stenton, Anglo Saxon England, pp. 489
  7. Stenton, Anglo Saxon England, pp. 491
  8. F.W. Maitland "Northumbrian Tenures" EHR, V, pp. 625-33; F.M. Stenton, "Types of Manorial Structure in the Northern Danelaw"Oxford Studies in Social and Legal History ed. P Vinogradoff, ii (1910)
  9. By the manor Jolliffe meant a village held by a mesne tenant containing an internal desmesne worked by the local peasants for the benefit of the holder of the village.
  10. Jolliffe "Institutions" pp. 2, 4-14, 31-32, 36-37
  11. Ibid., pp. 2, 40-42
  12. Ibid., pp. 24-29
  13. eg. "Northern English society in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries" Northern History, IV pp. 1-28; "Rural settlement in central and eastern Scotland: the medieval evidence", Scottish Studies, VI pt. 2 pp. 123-44; "Pre-Feudal Scotland: Shires and Thanes" The Kingdom of the Scots (Edinburgh 1973)pp. 7-68.
  14. RRS I pp. 46; Barrow, "Northern Society" pp. 18; extended in Barrow, Kingdom of the Scots pp. 37-53
  15. Barrow, "Northern Society" pp. 18, 20, 22-23; Barrow, Kingdom of the Scots pp. 11, 27-28, 58-64.
  16. Jolliffe, "Institutions" pp. 10-11; It is unclear why Barrow chose cain in the southwest of Scotland as being representative of cain in general. While in the southwest cain was a livestock render, in the east, it was not. (Barrow, "Northern Society" pp. 18-19) Cain in much of Scotland consisted of oats, malt and cheese as well as hides and tallow. (RRS I pp. 57, 118, 195, 243, 245) Also, the livestock renders from the Lothians and the Merse which Barrow linked to cain do not seem to have been so in the charters. (RRS II pp. 52) Duncan, Scotland pp. 152-154 does not agree that cain and coneveth were separate renders. For a full and detailed look at the various problems see Kapelle, Norman Conquest pp. 60-61
  17. Kapelle, Norman Conquest pp. 61
  18. See Stenton "Danes in England" pp. 233-36; Glanville R.J. Jones, "Early Territorial Organisation in Northern England and Its Bearing on the Scandinavian Settlement" The Fourth Viking Congress (Aberdeen 1965) pp. 67-70; Gillian Fellows Jensen, "The Vikings in England: a review" Anglo-Saxon England, IV, 1975, pp. 181-206.
  19. Stenton, Anglo-Saxon England pp. 519
  20. Jolliffe "Institutions" pp. 42
  21. J.A.E. Jolliffe, "The Era of the Folk in English History" Oxford Essays in Medieval History presented to Herbert Edward Salter ed. F.M. Powicke (Oxford 1934) pp. 18-19
  22. Sawyer P.H. "The Density of the Danish Settlement in England" University of Birmingham Historical Journal, 6, (1958) pp. 1-17; Glanville Jones op. cit. pp. 70-71
  23. The Kalendar of Abbot Samson of Bury St. Edwards and Related Documents (Royal Historical Soc., Camden 3rd Series, LXXXIV) ed. R.H.C. Davis, pp. xl, xxx-xxxvii, xliv-xlvii; See also idem. "East Anglia and the Danelaw" TRHistS, 5th Series., V, pp. 23-39.
  24. Barrow, Kingdom of the Scots pp. 22-28, 56-64.This is especially important bearing in mind Stenton’s evidence on the numbers of sokemen (Stenton, Anglo-Saxon England pp. 516-517 )
  25. Barrow, Kingdom of the Scots pp. 24.
  26. Ibid., pp. 27.
  27. Lawrie, Charters, nos. 30, 32.
  28. RRS, II, no. 496.
  29. Lawrie, Charters, nos. 182, 184
  30. Jolliffe, "Institutions" pp. 1-42 passim
  31. Barrow, Kingdom of the Scots, pp. 39-40.
  32. See below pp. 15
  33. For a full account of the various services and dues required from the thane and comparisons to England, see Ibid., pp. 41-53
  34. Loyn H.R. "Gesiths and Thegns in Anglo-Saxon England from the Seventh to the Tenth Century" EHR LXX shows that the word thegn in its administrative sense did not get wide currency until the ninth century.
  35. Grant, "Thanes and Thanages" pp. 39-47
  36. Cited at n. 4 pp. 47 Grant, "Thanes and Thanages"
  37. Chron. Bower, II, pp. 417; Chron. Fordun, I, pp. 186
  38. APS, I, pp. 663-5; Duncan, Scotland, pp. 107-11; J. Bannerman, "The Scots Language and the Kin-based Society", Gaelic and Scots in Harmony: Proceedings of the Second International Conference on the Languages of Scotland, ed. D.S. Thomson (Glasgow, 1990) pp. 6-8
  39. Jackson, K. The Gaelic Notes in the Book of Deer (Cambridge 1972) pp. 113-14
  40. eg. Hywan Macmallothen of Dairsie [68], Macbeath of Falkland [66], Gilys of Idvies {44}, Dugall of ‘Molen’ [12], Ewen of ‘Rathenech’ [10], Lorne of Uras [27].
  41. Grant, "Thanes and Thanages" pp. 46-47
  42. Ibid., pp. 48
  43. Barrow G.W.S. David I of Scotland (1124-1153): The Balance of New and Old (The Stenton Lecture, 1984)(Reading 1985), passim.
  44. Grant, "Thanes and Thanages" pp. 51.
  45. Malcolm IV granted Falkland [66] to the earls of Fife; William I also granted Kingskettle [67] and Cromdale [8] to the earls of Fife, his brother Earl David was granted Longforgan [52] and Ecclesgrieg [35], his bastard son Robert of London received Kellie [69], the chamberlain Walter of Berkeley received Inverkeilor [43], Osbert Olifard received Arbuthnott [29] and Robert de Melville seems to have had Tannadice [40]; Alexander II gave Aboyne [24] to Walter Bisset and Kincardine O’Neil [23] to Alan Durward, while a third of Callendar went to the former thane; Alexander III gave Belhelvie in the dowry of his daughter Margaret, Queen of Norway, Conveth [17] and Uras [28] went to the earl of Buchan, and John of Inchmartin was given Strathardle [50].
  46. Malcolm IV gave Couper [51] to his abbey at Coupar Angus; William I gave Birse [25] to the Bishops of Aberdeen; Alexander II gave most of Kinmylies [2] to the bishops of Moray and alienated Callendar [70] with two thirds going to Holyrood Abbey.
  47. Glamis [46]; Aberdeen [22]; Forteviot [64]; Kincardine [30]; Laurencekirk [34]; Kinmylies [2]; Scone [53]; Alyth [49]; Auchterarder [62]; Haddington [71]; Mumbrie [14]; Netherdale [15].
  48. Mumbrie [14]; Netherdale [15]; Uras [28]; Laurencekirk [34]; Idvies [44]; Fortingall [57]; Findowie [59]; Dalmarnock[60]; Strowan [61]; Dunning [63]; Dairsie [68]; Haddington [71].
  49. Arbuthnott and Inverkeilor
  50. Earl David, Robert of London, the earls of Fife, Margaret, Queen of Norway, and John of Inchmartin.
  51. Aboyne and Tannadice were back in crown hands by the late thirteenth century, Kellie was granted to Richard Siward on escheatment on a short term basis, and the queen of Norway did not have Belhelvie for any length of time.
  52. G.W.S. Barrow "Badenoch and Strathspey, 1130-1312, 1: Secular and Political" Northern Scotland, VIII, pp. 2-3.
  53. Grant, "Thanes and Thanages" pp. 54.
  54. RRS, II, no. 281; APS, I, pp. 378, c. 20; pp. 398, c. 2; pp. 113-4.
  55. See Grant, "Thanes and Thanages" pp. 56-59.
  56. See Grant, "Thanes and Thanages" pp. 60-63
  57. Ibid., pp. 65-70
  58. They did not die out altogether with many surviving as part of baronies or within earldoms, indeed 11 thanages were still described as such in the seventeenth century. Ibid., pp. 71
  59. Dickinson would seem to suggest that Roxburgh was the earliest Sheriffdom, especially as the earliest sheriff on record is Gospatric, apparently of Roxburgh. Dickinson, Fife Court Book pp. 349
  60. See Ibid., pp. 352-355
  61. At some point between the the reign of Malcolm IV and 1263. Ibid., pp. 354
  62. Was Lanark formed out of the coalescing of a small Clydesdale sheriffdom?
  63. Dickinson, Fife Court Book pp. 357-8.
  64. Ibid., pp. 358
  65. Ibid., pp. 357
  66. Ibid., pp. 350
  67. Ibid.
  68. Ibid., pp. 362
  69. Ibid., pp. 349
  70. Ibid., pp. 351
  71. Ibid., pp. 355
  72. Ibid., pp. 356
  73. Ibid., pp. 351
  74. Ibid., pp. 359-60. Inverness was often used as a catch all term for the north and west including the Isle of Man.
  75. See above pp. 6.
  76. Morris W.A. The Medieval English Sheriff to 1300 (Manchester 1927) pp. 49-50
  77. Gospatric c. 1119, Roxburgh; Gille-Bride 1166-68, Dunfermline; Mael-Diune 1128-1136, Eoghan 1136-1165, MacBeth 1165- c.1214 all Scone; Gille-Muire 1153-61, Clackmannan; Uctredus 1161-1162, Linlithgow; Mael-Colum 1161-1164, Forfar; Simon mac Mael-Bede c.1165, Traquair; Thor 1141-1150 possibly Haddington (Dickinson, Fife Court Book pp. 353); Durandus 1131-1150 possibly. also Haddington but earlier than Thor (ibid., pp.352)
  78. William 1125 x 1147, Gilbertus 1138 x 1153, both Stirling; Galfreidus 1161 x 1162, Edinburgh; Robertus 1147, Roxburgh.
  79. Baldwin of Biggar 1161 x 1162, Lanark; William Uvieth 1165, Lanark; John of Hastings 1165 x 1178, Kincardine & Mearns; Jervis de Riddle c. 1169, Roxburgh.
  80. eg. the sheriff of Crailshire became the sheriff of the amalgamated Fife.
  81. eg in Fife there were smaller courts held in the constabularies of Dunfermline, Kirkaldy, Ardross, Kilrimont, Kinnemounth, Gellat, Goatmilk and Kellie. Coupar was the Caput of the sheriffdom of Fife.
  82. Dickinson, Fife Court Book pp. xli
  83. Ibid., pp. xli-xlii
  84. See RRS, I, pp. 49-50; RRS, I, no. 223
  85. The earls of Fife were the hereditary justiciars of Scotia

List of Thanes and Thanages for Maps III & IV

The list is based on that given by Grant A. "Thanes and Thanages, from the Eleventh to the Fourteenth Centuries" Medieval Scotland Crown, Lordship and Community. Essays presented to G.W.S. Barrow (Edinburgh 1993) pp72-81. Refer to it for full details and references.

Ross & Cromarty Kincardine
1 Dingwall 25 Birse
26 Durris
27 Cowie
28 Uras
29 Arbuthnott
30 Kincardine
31 Fettercairn
32 Newdosk
33 Aberluthnott
34 Laurencekirk (Conveth)
35 Morphie (Ecclesgreig)
Inverness Angus
2 Kinmylies 36 Kinnaber
3 Essich 37 Menmuir
38 Clova
39 Kinalty
40 Tannadice
41 Aberlermo
42 Old Montrose
43 Inverkeilor
44 Idvies
45 Forfar
46 Glamis
47 Downie
48 Monifieth
Nairn Perth
4 Cawdor 49 Alyth
5 Moyness 50 Strathardle
51 Coupar Angus
52 Longforgan
53 Scone
54 Kinclaven
55 Glentilt
56 Dull
57 Fortingall
58 Crannach
59 Findowie
60 Dalmarnock
61 Strowan
62 Auchterarder
63 Dunning
64 Forteviot
Moray Kinross
6 Brodie 65 Kinross
7 Dyke
8 Cromdale
9 Kilmalemnock
10 "Rathnech"
11 Fochabers
12 "Molen"
Banff Fife
13 Boyne 66 Falkland
14 Mumbrie 67 Kingskettle
15 Netherdale 68 Dairsie
16 Aberchirder 69 Kellie
17 Conveth
18 Glendowachy
Aberdeen Stirling
19 Formartine 70 Callendar
20 Belhelvie
21 Kintore
22 Aberdeen
23 Kincardine O'Neil
24 Aboyne
East Lothian
71 Haddington


The following abbreviations have been used in the notes. They follow the guidelines laid down in the "List of Abbreviated Titles of the Printed Sources of Scottish History to 1560" SHR XLII (1963).

APS The Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, eds. T. Thomson and C. Innes (Edinburgh 1814-75)
Barrow, Kingdom of the Scots G.W.S. Barrow The Kingdom of the Scots (Edinburgh 1973)
Barrow, "Northern Society"  G.W.S. Barrow "Northern English society in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries" Northern History, IV pp1-28;
Chron. Bower,  Scotichronicon, Walter Bower, ed. D.E.R. Watt (Aberdeen 1987-)
Chron. Fordun,  John of Fordun's Chronicle of the Scottish Nation. Historians of Scotland Series Vols I & IV. W.F. Skene (Edinburgh 1872)
Dickinson, Fife Court Book  Dickinson W.C. The Sheriff Court Book of Fife Scottish History Society, Third Series, Vol. XII (Edinburgh 1928)
Duncan, Scotland Duncan A.A.M. Scotland: The Making of the Kingdom (Edinburgh 1989)
Grant, "Thanes and Thanges" Grant A. "Thanes and Thanages, from the Eleventh to the Fourteenth Centuries" Medieval Scotland Crown, Lordship and Community. Essays presented to G.W.S. Barrow (Edinburgh 1993)
Jolliffe, "Institutions" Jolliffe J.E.A. "Northumbrian Institutions" EHR XLI pp1-42
Kapelle, Norman Conquest  Kapelle W. The Norman Conquest of the North: The Region and its Transformation 1000-1135 (London 1979)
Lawrie, Charters Early Scottish Charters prior to 1153, ed. A.C. Lawrie (Glasgow 1905)
Liebermann, Gesetze F. Liebermann. Die Gesetze der Angelsachsen, (Aalen Scientia 1960)
RRS Regesta Regum Scottorum:

Vol. I. The Acts of Malcolm IV King of Scots 1153-1165, ed. G.W.S. Barrow (Edinburgh 1960)

Vol. II. The Acts of William I King of Scots 1165-1214, ed. G.W.S. Barrow & W.W. Scott (Edinburgh 1971)
Stenton, Anglo-Saxon England Stenton F.M. Anglo-Saxon England c.550-1087 -Oxford History of England Vol. II (Oxford 1971)


Die Gesetze der Angelsachsen, F. Liebermann. (Aalen Scientia 1960)
Early Scottish Charters prior to 1153, ed. A.C. Lawrie (Glasgow 1905)
John of Fordun's Chronicle of the Scottish Nation. Historians of Scotland Series Vols I & IV. W.F. Skene (Edinburgh 1872)
Regesta Regum Scottorum:
  • Vol. I. The Acts of Malcolm IV King of Scots 1153-1165, ed. G.W.S. Barrow (Edinburgh 1960)
  • Vol. II. The Acts of William I King of Scots 1165-1214, ed. G.W.S. Barrow & W.W. Scott (Edinburgh 1971)
Scotichronicon, Walter Bower, ed. D.E.R. Watt (Aberdeen 1987-)
The Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, eds. T. Thomson and C. Innes (Edinburgh 1814-75)
J. Bannerman, "The Scots Language and the Kin-based Society", Gaelic and Scots in Harmony: Proceedings of the Second International Conference on the Languages of Scotland, ed. D.S. Thomson (Glasgow, 1990)
Barrow G.W.S.
  • The Anglo-Norman era in Scottish History (Oxford 1980)
  • David I of Scotland (1124-1153): The Balance of New and Old (The Stenton Lecture, 1984)(Reading 1985)
  • Feudal Britain: The completion of the Medieval Kingdoms 1066-1314 (London 1956)
  • Kingship and Unity: Scotland 1000-1306 (Edinburgh 1981)
  • The Kingdom of the Scots (London 1973)
  • "Northern English Society in the Twelfth and Thirteenth centuries" Northern History Vol. IV
  • "Badenoch and Strathspey, 1130-1312, 1: Secular and Political" Northern Scotland, VIII
  • "Badenoch and Strathspey, 1130-1312, 2: Ecclesiastical" Northern Scotland, IX
Davies R.H.C.
  • A History of Medieval Europe: From Constantine to Saint Louis (London 1988)
  • The Kalendar of Abbot Samson of Bury St. Edwards and Related Documents (Royal Historical Soc., Camden 3rd Series, LXXXIV)
  • "East Anglia and the Danelaw" TRHistS, 5th Series.
Dickinson W.C.
  • Scotland from the Earliest Times to 1603 (Oxford 1977)
  • The Sheriff Court Book of Fife Scottish History Society, Third Series, Vol. XII (Edinburgh 1928)
Duncan A.A.M. Scotland: The Making of the Kingdom (Edinburgh 1989)
Frame R. The Political Development of the British Isles 1100-1400 (Oxford 1990)
Grant A. "Thanes and Thanages, from the Eleventh to the Fourteenth Centuries" Medieval Scotland Crown, Lordship and Community. Essays presented to G.W.S. Barrow Edinburgh 1993)
Hill D. Atlas of Anglo-Saxon England (Oxford 1981)
Jackson, K. The Gaelic Notes in the Book of Deer (Cambridge 1972)
Jensen G.F. "The Vikings in England: a review" Anglo-Saxon England, IV, 1975.
Jolliffe J.E.A.
  • "Northumbrian Institutions" EHR XLI
  • "The Era of the Folk in English History" Oxford Essays in Medieval History presented to Herbert Edward Salter ed. F.M. Powicke (Oxford 1934)
Jones G.R.J. "Early Territorial Organisation in Northern England and Its Bearing on the Scandinavian Settlement" The Fourth Viking Congress (Aberdeen 1965)
Kapelle W. The Norman Conquest of the North: The Region and its Transformation 1000-1135 (London 1979)
Loyn H.R. "Gesiths and Thegns in Anglo-Saxon England from the Seventh to the Tenth Century" EHR LXX
Lynch M. Scotland- A New History (London 1991)
McNeill P. & Nicholson R. An Historical Atlas of Scotland c.400-c. 1600 (1975)
Maitland F.W.
  • Domesday Book and Beyond (London 1960)
  • "Northumbrian Tenures" EHR, V
Morris W.A. The Medieval English Sheriff to 1300 (Manchester 1927)
Poole A.L.From Doomsday Book to Magna Carta 1087-1216 Oxford History of England Vol. III (Oxford 1955)
Reid R. "Barony and Thanage" EHR XXXV
Richardson H.G. & Sayles G.O. The Governance of Medieval England from the Conquest to Magna Carta (Edinburgh 1963)
Ritchie R.L.G. The Normans in Scotland (Edinburgh 1954)
Roffe D.
  • "From Thanage to Barony: Sake and Soke, Title and Tenants-in-Chief", Anglo-Norman Studies, XII: Proceedings of the Battle Conference, 1989
  • "Domesday Book and Northern Society: a reassessment", EHR, CV (1990)
Sawyer P.H. "The Density of the Danish Settlement in England" University of Birmingham Historical Journal, 6, (1958)
Stenton D.M. "English Society in the Early Middle Ages" EHR Vol.40
Stenton F.M.
  • Anglo-Saxon England c.550-1087 Oxford History of England Vol. II (Oxford 971)
  • "The Danes in England" Proceedings of the British Academy, XIII
  • The First Century of English Feudalism (Oxford 1961)
  • "Types of Manorial Structure in the Northern Danelaw"Oxford Studies in Social and Legal History ed. P Vinogradoff, ii (1910)
Whitelock D.The Beginnings of English Society Pelican History of England Vol. II (London 1952)