The work focussing on the ground and principal floor levels of the palace has added significantly to the understanding of how the sixteenth century palace block was built and converted over many centuries. New evidence has been traced of how the palace of James V was built from the remains of, and also inspired by, the buildings of earlier kings. Further evidence has been found of how the Royal Palace was then progressively altered during subsequent centuries, long after the Stewart Court had departed from Stirling. The opportunity for the detailed analysis of the fabric of the palace has clearly enabled a better understanding of the structural development of the site, whether in terms of its place within the European Renaissance or as part of a Scottish late-medieval building tradition.
In addition to new discoveries, the project has assembled a comprehensive site archive combining historical documentation with new survey and excavation data. Over one million words have been written and thousands of images have been compiled. This archive can be exploited for reference either in terms of research and educational purposes, or as background to ongoing conservation issues as part of the general management of the site as a public monument
The work at Stirling Castle Palace has resulted in a vast collection of data. This includes approximately:
- 15,000 individual context sheets
- 4,500 digital images
- 500 CAD drawings
- Over 1,000,000 words of text derived from the fieldwork (specialist reports, historical narratives etc.)
Within the confines of a traditional paper-based publication this amount of information is simply unmanageable. Therefore it was decided to use the World Wide Web (WWW) as the principal means of publication. Some of the reasons behind this decision are outlined below.
In particular, it:
- Gives unrestricted world wide distribution to the results of fieldwork at minimal expense, allowing the presentation of enough detail to satisfy a serious researcher without overwhelming the casual reader.
- Gives access to multiple full-colour photographs (which are usually too expensive to reproduce in large numbers in a paper-based publication), along with CAD drawings, downloadable and searchable high-quality text files for printing and reading offline, and online databases for querying the fieldwork archive in real time.
- Provides open access to the published results of fieldwork and the archive for a global audience, allowing the kind of critical scrutiny that is expected of serious intellectual work on a scale never before possible. Wherever there is a computer linked to the WWW there is access to this information.
- Is inexpensive in contrast to a traditional print run (which usually is a financially difficult undertaking and often produces a few hundred very expensive copies of a publication that mostly reside within the libraries of academic institutions).
- Is a living resource that, unlike a book, microfiche or a DVD, can be edited, updated and added to as and when required.
- Is quick and relatively straightforward to publish online. This therefore has the potential of bridging the long-standing gap between the audience and unpublished material.
- Is now a recognised means of publication in many academic fields, as evidenced by the ever increasing number of high quality, peer reviewed, e-journals and e-books appearing each year.