Life in Medieval Perth

The two images shown here are a Walrus ivory knife handle dating to the 14th century and a pilgrim’s badge of St Thomas a Beckett from Canterbury Cathedral that would have held holy water from the shrine.


A series of publications, ‘Excavations at 75-95 High Street, Perth’, sponsored by Historic Scotland, is to be launched in Perth Museum and Art Gallery on Thursday 20th October 2011. The series reveals a fascinating insight into Perth’s largest ever medieval excavations.

The archaeological dig, which took place in Perth’s High Street in the mid 1970’s, unearthed the remains of up to 29 wooden buildings, textiles, Spanish silks, metalwork, leather, wooden and bone objects as well as medieval pottery and animal bone.

Olwyn Owen, Head of Scheduling and Marine at Historic Scotland said:

“The excavations in Perth in the mid 1970’s gave us a glimpse for the first time in Scotland, of just how rich the urban archaeological resource might be. Perth is the jewel in our urban archaeological crown, unique amongst Scottish towns for the depth, importance and consistently high quality of its archaeological remains.

‘“The archaeological deposits of Perth contain artefacts and materials that do not survive elsewhere. This gives us the opportunity to be able to reconstruct an accurate picture of lifestyle and living conditions in the town some 700 or 800 years ago.”

Derek Hall, Assistant Editor Tayside and Fife Archaeological Committee added:

“Urban excavations can often provide the most information and in some ways the most striking finds. This is because many medieval towns are situated on sites where continuous occupation can result in archaeological deposits being up to three or four metres deep. As these deep deposits are sometimes waterlogged, it means that the decay process is either very slow or does not happen at all, providing us with a fascinating insight into our past history and heritage.”

There will be four books in the series. The first two will detail the history, excavation, excavated buildings and the environmental and zoological evidence. The third and fourth will be published next year and will describe the ceramics, metalwork, religious objects and wooden objects, leather and textiles.

For information:

The excavations will be published by the Tayside and Fife Archaeological Committee in a series of four highly illustrated volumes that will each consider different elements of the excavation and its related artefacts.

Volumes 1 and 4 are to be launched first, in October 2011, and will detail the history, excavation and excavated buildings and the environmental and zoological evidence respectively. These will be followed in 2012 by Volumes 2 and 3 in which the ceramics, metalwork, religious objects and wooden objects and the leather and textiles will be described.

Single volume, £15 + £6 p&p

Two volumes (purchased together) £25 + £8 p&p

Four volumes (ordered and paid for together) £40 + £12 p&p Before 12 November 2011

European postage costs are available on request

Orders (cheques payable to ‘TAFAC’) should be sent to

Derek Hall, TAFAC Asst Editor, 34 Glenfarg Terrace, Perth,
PH2 0AP email

(Orders for all four are welcomed in advance of publication of final fascicule)

All of the above information and photos are taken from a Historic Scotland News Release.


2 thoughts on “Life in Medieval Perth

    1. Perth is one of my most favorite places in the world. I have never been to the Ferguson Gallery either so if you go, please let me know what you think.

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