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.


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.


King James I of Scotland


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; Perth and Kinross will become the focus of global attention because we’re inviting its people, and the wider world, to reconnect with their heritage, situate Perth’s present in the past, uncover its hidden clues and solve the mystery of who we are and where we’ve come from – so we can all collectively explore and all collectively share 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. It will create the world’s first-ever virtual Museum of the 21st Century – Expanding audiences: Reconnecting Communities: Supporting Perth’s UK City of Culture Bid 2021.

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.


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.


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.


Perth Charterhouse Project Events 2017

  • Urban Detectives

This workshop will introduce you to free training, resources and opportunities available through Scotland’s Urban Past. This session will help you investigate the architectural history of Perth, learn how to access your local history records and discover how other community-led projects are sharing the story of their towns and cities with Scotland’s Urban Past

  • Thursday 6 April
  • 18:00 – 20:00
  • Venue: Soutar Theatre AK Bell Library
  • Cost: free

Booking: pre-booking essential, see for details

Contact: email Local and Family History

  • Introduction to Maps and Archives for Local History

This workshop will introduce researchers to local history resources – particularly 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.

  • Thursday 11 May
  • 18:00 – 20:00
  • Venue: Local and Family History and Archives AK Bell Library
  • Cost: free
  • Booking: pre-booking essential, see for details
  • Contact: email Local and Family History
  • How to Read an Old Document

Dr Lucy Dean will use a variety of source material from our 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 get to handle and study the material on display with expert advice throughout.

  • Thursday 8 June
  • 18:00 – 20:00
  • Venue: Local and Family History AK Bell Library Perth
  • Cost: free
  • Booking: pre-booking essential, see for details
  • Contact: email Local and Family History

Royal Murder, Friars and Beer: Archaeological Building Recording Workshop

In 1437, King James I of Scotland was brutally murdered in Perth. Join Perth Society for Natural Science in a search for evidence of Blackfriars Dominican Friary – the scene of the crime. Learn how to measure and record archaeological remains in these single day workshops led by Scotland’s Urban Past. Hear more about Perth’s own Game of Thrones and help discover the clues that might be lurking in the cellar walls of Christies Bar.

Wednesday 26 & Thursday 27 July

10:00 – 16:00

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

Walking in the bloody footsteps of James I, Perth

Join archaeologist David Bowler of the Perthshire Society of Natural Science for a 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 own Game of Thrones and hear how archaeological and historical research is helping to tell the story.

Saturday 23 September

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

Perth Charterhouse Project Events Listings 2017 (March 12, 2017)

James I King of Scotland and The Perth Charterhouse (Feb 10, 2017)


History, Architecture and Environment
Professor Richard Oram
Dean of Arts and Humanities The University of Stirling

Scottish History, Royalty, Ritual and Ceremony
Dr. Lucinda Dean
Centre for History
University of The Highlands and Islands

Media Television and Technology
Paul Wilson
The Glasgow School of Art