Perth – 1440

Perth is the perfect place to live in Medieval times. It’s a rich and influential city. It sits at important cross roads for trade in Scotland. The River Tay is still deep enough for ships to arrive, it is the lowest possible crossing point without much danger, and it is easy to reach by road from the West, the South and the North.

Perth was built on commerce, royal patronage and the hard work of its citizens, manufacturing high value goods out of material from the land around. Leather was used to create the finest gloves, wool and flax to make linen and clothing, and salmon was exported wide and far. What luxury the citizens needed was imported by ship and road from across Scotland, Scandinavia, England, the Baltic states, France and the Low Countries bordering the North Sea. Life was good with wine from France, timber from the Baltic, pottery from Holland and France, and other goods from across Europe.

Perth was one of the five wealthiest cities in Scotland and prestigious enough for the kings to hold parliament here 14 times in the 15th century. The citizens took pride in what they had achieved. Life was good in town – if it wasn’t for the repeated times of flooding, washing away houses and bridges, water being contaminated by cess pits, or lives being threatened by epidemics (plagues, water-borne diseases) running through the densely built up settlement. The ground was soggy, and when houses were demolished, they built new ones on top. Buried material is still found today and is in very good condition, telling us a lot about life in Medieval Perth.

The Canmore entry for Perth is here.