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The Evidence for Early Seventeenth-Century Climate from Scottish Ecclesiastical Records

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This article argues that the records kept by Scottish church courts in the early modern period provide a rich and untapped source of information on historical weather patterns. This is primarily because severe weather events caused disruption to court meetings, and the nature of the records means that fluctuations in weather can potentially be traced across a wide geographical range and for long periods of time. Based on a sample of records from 1615-25, a period which included a known severe weather event, the flooding of Perth in 1621, the article provides quantitative and qualitative analysis of weather trends, drawing particular attention to an extended period of severe weather from 1619-22, of which the flooding of Perth was a part. It also identifies periods that witnessed much less severe weather and identifies important regional variations in weather patterns which emerge from the study of church court records, in contrast to more traditional sources such as diaries and chronicles. The article thus demonstrates the value of this new methodology for climate history and points the way forward to future studies.
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Keywords: Scotland; church records; climate impact; historical weather

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2013

More about this publication?
  • Environment and History is an interdisciplinary journal which aims to bring scholars in the humanities and biological sciences closer together, with the deliberate intention of constructing long and well-founded perspectives on present day environmental problems.

    Environment and History has a Journal Impact Factor (2019) of 0.698. 5 Year Impact Factor: 0.806.
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