The evidence for early seventeenth-century climate from Scottish ecclesiastical records

Alan R. MacDonald, John McCallum

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    6 Citations (Scopus)


    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 which 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.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)487-509
    Number of pages23
    JournalEnvironment and History
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013


    • Historical weather
    • Church records
    • Scotland
    • Climate impact


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