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Case studies

Each of these case studies investigates an abandoned historic rural settlement, which at one time supported a farming community. The sites are Rosal, in Sutherland, Highland, Margdow, Lochtayside, Perth and Kinross, and Spittal of Glenmuick, Deeside, Aberdeenshire.

Each case study contains copies of historic and archaeological sources which can be used to investigate how people lived at these rural sites in the past.
The case studies are divided into the following sections:

  • Using archaeological records to discover the types of buildings found in an historic rural settlement and define what they were used for.
  • Using archaeological plans to see detailed drawings of building remains and examine how people lived in an historic rural settlement.
  • Using maps to find evidence of when the settlement was occupied in the past and to see how it changed over time.
  • Using photographs to investigate the layout of a site and the surrounding landscape and find out how people built their houses.
  • Using historical records to find written evidence of what life was like in and around the settlement when it was occupied.
  • Using the archaeological and documentary records provided, you can make observations and deductions about the lives of the people who lived in rural settlements long ago.


Example activities are given to assist your learning and teaching and suggestions are made on how to pull together what you have learned and create your own interpretation of what life was like in Scotland’s rural past.

© Historic Environment Scotland - Scottish Charity No. SC045925.