Almost 650 years ago the Stewart family climbed from the ranks of the nobility to become Kings of Scotland. 

As masters of diplomacy, intrigue, and in the art of survival in war, marriage and policy, they rebuilt Scotland after the famines, pestilences and the traumas of the wars of the fourteenth century, and by eliminating every potential rival, tightened their steely grip on the throne: six centuries later, their direct descendent still wears the British crown.

THE STORY

Perth was the hub of medieval Scotland

For three centuries after its foundation Perth was the residence of kings, meeting-place of parliaments and councils, seat of government and a thriving centre of international trade.
It was to become chief seat of the Stewart kings – their veritable capital; London, Westminster and Oxford rolled into one.
That prospect came to a bloody end on 21 February 1437 when King James I was brutally assassinated in the royal apartments at the Blackfriars’ monastery. With James, into his tomb in Perth’s unique Carthusian priory, went his vision of the town as Scotland’s beating heart.

THE PLAYERS

King James I of Scotland

THE CHARTERHOUSE

James I King of Scotland and The Perth Charterhouse

Few eras have captured our imagination quite as powerfully as Scotland’s medieval past. Its character, colour and events have influenced and inspired artists, novelists and playwrights whose works have gone on to fuel international fascination from the time of Sir Walter Scott to George R. R. Martin.

It is not all fantasy, however, for driving this fascination has been the work of our prodigious historians and archaeologists who, for years, have been attempting to answer the ‘big’ questions about this period. Almost 650 years ago the Stewart family climbed from the ranks of the nobility to become Kings of Scotland. As masters of diplomacy, intrigue, and in the art of survival in war, marriage and policy, they rebuilt Scotland after the famines, pestilences and the traumas of the wars of the fourteenth century, and by eliminating every potential rival, tightened their steely grip on the throne: six centuries later, their direct descendent still wears the British crown.

In recent years advances in academic, archaeological and historical research have, together, driven our understanding of Scotland’s history but, nevertheless, it’s important to understand that the medieval narrative remains, on the one hand, serially and seriously romanticised and on the other, fiercely contested. Its history is draped in religious and political controversy and in few places is this more evident than in understanding how Stewart power operated and what the political, economic, cultural and religious realities were at the time. We are not, however, simply interested in the major players. The often nameless, ordinary Scots who lived and died in the kingdom are equally fascinating. For centuries we have concerned ourselves with monumental ruins and the government of empire, but recently that focus has shifted from the grand sweep of history and onto the routines and rituals of daily life. There’s been a shift in interest toward social history and the everyday experiences of ordinary people – illustrated graphically by what archaeologists are, for the most part, investigating. New areas of study have opened up – everything from industry, commerce and culture, to health, disease, diet and dress, and this change, away from just looking at the big political and military events or at the ‘great men’ in history, and focusing on the questions surrounding religious, cultural, material, economic and social trends, allows us to get to grips with ‘ordinary’ human experience.

 

The Perth Charterhouse Project will enable us to focus archaeological and historical research on a city and on an event that, like no other, will allow us insight into the precariousness, richness and diversity of life at the heart of the medieval kingdom.

At the forefront of the this Project are some of Scotland’s leading thinkers who will seek to reveal the importance of Perth’s pivotal place in the emergence of the Scottish identity, its influence upon medieval power and politics, and attempt to unearth one of Scotland’s greatest and most intriguing secrets: the burial place of James I King of Scotland (r. 1406 – 1437), his wife Joan Beaufort Queen of Scots, and Margaret Tudor Queen of Scots, wife to King James IV of Scotland and sister to King Henry VIII. The very fact that opulent and lavish built-architecture was commissioned by James I in 15th-century Perth and that the political community gathered there regularly to legislate and advise their monarch suggests that there was something very special about this place. 

Perth has an epic history and could, had situations been different, have been Scotland’s capital city, yet the knowledge of its once pivotal position has largely been forgotten in our modern imagination. What we hope to uncover, through fresh archaeological discoveries and cutting-edge historical interpretations, will reappraise the extraordinary importance of Perth’s place in history. More than this, however, this project will blend ground breaking digital technologies with historical and archaeological research to offer new ways of interacting with the past for audiences of the future.

The most exciting part of the project is that it is one driven by the community for the community; The project will situate Perth’s present in the past, uncover its hidden clues, solve the mystery of who we are, where we’ve come from, and connect its people and the wider world with their lost heritage – sharing the discoveries made through technology, the internet and social networks.

Our work, in supporting the local digital knowledge economy through the development of applied technology, will invent an unprecedented virtual and augmented reality vision, including the complete 360° panoramic digital reconstruction of this unique medieval city. Expanding audiences and reconnecting communities.

This will become a part of Scotland’s National Story

The Museum of The 21st Century

The Museum of the 21st Century will focus on interactive, high definition, 360° motion tracked holographic visualisation technology and tri-dimensional spatial projection, utilising exciting mixed reality technologies such as Microsoft’s HoloLens; and whilst elegantly surpassing conventional 2D interactive systems it will, through artificial intelligence, allow visitors to engage in comprehensive interactive verbal dialogue with historical characters – further enhancing our understanding in Scottish history through conversations from Scotland’s past.

Through the Development of innovative technology, facilitated by Government, Commerce, The University of Stirling, The University of The Highland’s and Islands and The Glasgow School of Art, The Museum of the 21st Century will provide 24/7 global public engagement.

Up to the minute Augmented and Virtual Reality 360 technologies, Social Media, Mobile Apps, and Live Web-streaming.

Connect Communities

Encouraging a sense of place, City pride, Identity and of ownership.

Excite Tourism

Through its rich historical, archaeological and cultural heritage, world attention will be focused on Perth – attracting the people of Scotland, exciting international tourism, reinforcing Scotland’s educational brand, its exemplary reputation for innovation and nurturing it’s inventive spirit.

CULTURE: RESEARCH: ACADEMIC

A Compelling Cultural and Academic Opportunity
  • Unleashing imagination and creativity.
  • Developing skills and stimulating the arts, design and innovation.
  • Raising achievement and aspirations.
  • Increasing awareness, amongst people from all backgrounds, of the opportunities offered by Higher Education.
  • Investigating Traditional Skills.
  • Science, Archaeology, History, Music and Culture.
  • A partnership between Perth and three world-leading academic institutions.
  • Archaeology, heritage and history meet cutting-edge digital technologies.
  • New methods, New thinking.
  • New degrees to make new visionaries for the 21st Century
  • Working with HES to deliver applied and academic skills in unique combinations to create employment-ready graduates.

Giving Perth’s students THE competitive edge In a globalised world of heritage interpretation and tourism.
Student-centred inspirational activities: Archaeological Discovery Days, hands-on skills experience, interactive class-rooms.
Scottish Field Academies.
Growing the local skill-base: Building Heritage Tourism in a must-visit world-leading setting.
Life-transforming experiences for all age-groups through community archaeology and heritage projects.
Boosting confidence: Giving school children a taste of life and learning at university level.
Working within local communities to build cohesion and community knowledge.

COMMERCE - THE VALUE OF VIRTUAL

A Compelling, Dramatic, Unique Story

This is an unrivalled story about one of Scotland’s Greatest untold mysteries. King James I, Joan Queen of Scots, Margaret Queen of Scots and the Charterhouse. But there’s more; Perth’s medieval narrative is much broader and has prodigious county-wide potential for expansion. It was the trading gateway to Europe at the spearhead of Scotland’s medieval ‘modernisation’.

Perth – The seat of Kings, Church councils and Parliaments. The battle-ground of the Wars of Independence. The Arena for bloody clan conflicts. The crucible of Reformation.

Perth has unparalleled archaeological richness to illustrate the lives of princes and paupers. Watched by the world, through cutting edge technology, the drama will unfold. Collectively, the Community, the Archaeology and Research will uncover and reveal Perth’s rich and dangerous medieval heritage.

366 million people around the globe watched coverage of the discovery and reinterment of Richard III. Game of Thrones (to date) grossing over 100 million viewers. Outlander – grossing 4 million combined viewers per episode. Advertising media coverage revenues were £12m, excluding broadcast programme and non-advertising media production.

PRESS AND EVENTS

Perth Charterhouse Project Events 2020

  • An Evening with James l

Music performed by Gaita: Scotland’s specialist medieval music ensemble dedicated to performing their music in a medieval context.

Interview and discussion with Rona Munro: Exploring the complex character of James I through her vividly-imagined and tumultuous play James I: The key will keep the lock.

Poetry performed by Jim Mackintosh, Poet in Residence St. Johnstone Football Club, and Poet in Chief of The Hampden Collection.

Interview and excerpts with novelist Helen Grant

Readings taken from James I’s Kingis Quair and from John Shirley’s eyewitness accounts of the tragic murder of James I.

  • Friday 21st February 2020
  • 19:30 – 22:00
  • Venue: St. John’s Kirk, Perth
  • Cost: £10

Booking: pre-booking essential, see www.culturepk.org.uk for details

Contact: email Local and Family History localstudies@culturepk.org.uk

  • Introduction to Maps and Archives for Local History II

This second exciting workshop will introduce researchers to local history resources – exploring old maps and document from the Archive. We will show you how to find primary source material – demonstrating the value of using a variety of resources to inform local history research. The session will also include how to use a variety of related resources including the Archive catalogue, SCRAN, NLS Map website.

  • 2020 Date TBC
  • 18:00 – 20:00
  • Venue: Local and Family History and Archives AK Bell Library
  • Cost: free
  • Booking: pre-booking essential, see culturepk.org.uk for details
  • Contact: email Local and Family History localstudies@culturepk.org.uk
  • How to Read an Old Document II

Dr Lucy Dean will use a variety of source material from the AK Bell Archive asking questions – Who created it? Who was it written for? Why did they write it? How can it help our research?

Participants will learn basic palaeography skills and useful tips on how to decipher old texts and handwriting. Those attending will handle and study the material on display with expert advice throughout.

  • 2020 Date TBC
  • 18:00 – 20:00
  • Venue: Local and Family History AK Bell Library Perth
  • Cost: free
  • Booking: pre-booking essential, see culturepk.org.uk for details
  • Contact: email Local and Family History localstudies@culturepk.org.uk

The Archaeology Revealed

In 1437, King James I of Scotland was brutally murdered in Perth. Join Perth Society for Natural Science and Scotland’s Urban Past for a review of the archaeology revealed from within the cellar walls of Christies Bar, (site of part of the Blackfriar’s Dominican priory), and learn how this exciting evidence has been interpreted.

  • 2020 Date TBC
  • 20:00 – 22:00
  • Venue: King James Pub, 73 Kinnoull St, Perth, PH1 5EZ
  • Cost: free
  • Booking: pre-booking essential, contact Scotland’s Urban Past

Additional Info: participants must be over 18 years old. The workshops will involve working in a confined space below ground level and will require high mobility for cellar access/egress.

Contact: email Scotland’s Urban Past sup@hes.scot

Walking in the bloody footsteps of James I

Join archaeologist David Bowler of the Perthshire Society of Natural Science for our second guided walk through Medieval Perth. Hear about King James I’s dreams to make Perth the capital of Scotland and how they were violently ended in 1437. Visit some of the sites in Perth’s very own Game of Thrones and hear how archaeological and historical research is helping to tell the story of the complex character of this colourful Stewart king – a poet, a lover, a law-maker but also the product of a harsh political system

  • 2020 Date TBC
  • 13:00 – 14:30
  • Cost: free
  • Walk Grade: 1 (easy)
  • Booking: pre-booking essential, see PKHT website for details

Contact: Gavin Lindsay (PKHT) 01738 477082

CONTACT US

History, Architecture and Environment
Professor Richard Oram
Dean of Arts and Humanities The University of Stirling
r.d.oram@stir.ac.uk

Scottish History, Royalty, Ritual and Ceremony
Dr. Lucinda Dean
Centre for History
University of The Highlands and Islands
lucy.dean@uhi.ac.uk

Media Television and Technology
Paul Wilson
The Glasgow School of Art
P.Wilson@gsa.ac.uk