The Scottish Parliament



The theme of the history of the Scottish parliament provides teaching staff with a range of possibilities for teaching.  Here are but a few suggestions:


Looking at specific parliaments of the medieval or early modern period, say, 1318, 1488, 1560; 1567; 1603; 1660; 1689 and many other dates where parliament reflected and precipitated the events of the nation



How did parliament engage with local concerns such as confirming rights of burghs (such as the baronial burgh Falkirk in 1600); permission to hold markets and fairs; to license societies and manufactories within burghs; to help rural populations struggling with poor harvests; with damaged bridges and crossing points; disputes between landowners or the provision of education and ministers and parish churches. The free online Records of the Parliament of Scotland to 1707 at offers great possibilities for local research.


Thematic study:

The range of themes that could be investigated is vast covering political, social, economic, religious, cultural and foreign policy aspects. Smaller themes such as children; coal mining; fishing; hunting; vagrants and foreign workers could also be investigated.


Images of parliament:

Where did parliament meet? What buildings survive today or illustrations surviving of where the assembly met? Use of SCRAN is a big help here. What images can we create that could reflect our idea of what parliament was like?


To help with these teaching ideas a series of workshops have been assembled below covering the following topics:

Workshop ideas:

  • The poor
  • Clothing and dress
  • Censorship
  • Markets, fairs and burghs
  • Family
  • Leisure and games
  • Images of parliament

The Scottish Parliament Project – online Records of the Parliaments of Scotland

The Scottish Parliament Project (SPP), which was based at St. Andrews University, has prepared a digital database of the legislation of the Scottish parliament from 1230s to 1707. The SPP was begun in 1997 with Scottish Office and Scottish Executive funding and was one of the most important research projects in recent years. It has delivered a vast resource for research at all levels. The free online record at went live in 2008 and is updated periodically with corrections and new material. The parliamentary record as prepared, including some new and previously unpublished material, consists of the original Latin and Scots language along with a parallel text translation in modernised English and with standardised place and personal names to facilitate computerised searching. It is simple: you search in the modernised (translation) text and link to the original (manuscript) text or just work with the translation if that is easier.


Along with the editing of the acts of parliament, SPP has been involved in a programme of research into the Scottish Parliament throughout its history, and it and its team of researchers have produced a range of monographs, articles and Ph.D. theses. For details and an updated bibliography of secondary sources for the history of the parliament see the RPS website above. Meanwhile, a list of Alastair Mann’s publications can be accessed from the Home Page [link] and his University of Stirling profile at


Bibliographical Note


A detailed bibliography is available at the Records of the Scottish Parliament website at

The references to RPS in this workshop extracts refer to The Records of the Parliament of Scotland, edited by Keith Brown et al (St Andrews, 2008-onward). The text of the acts are reproduced by permission of the University of St Andrews and the editors. Note that The Acts of Parliament of Scotland, 1124-1707, ed. T. Thomson and C. Innes (12 vols, Edinburgh, 1814-75), is the available printed source of the acts which the digitized acts, more comprehensive and honest to the manuscript order, now replace. The best printed secondary source which explains the basic workings of parliament is the out of copyright C.S. Terry, The Scottish Parliament: Its Constitution and Procedure 1603-1707 (Glasgow, 1905) but for a more up-to-date summary see Alastair J. Mann, ‘House Rules: Parliamentary Procedure’ in K.M Brown and A.R MacDonald (eds.) The History of the Scottish Parliament volume 3: Parliament in Context, 1235-1707 (Edinburgh University Press, 2010), 122-56 and for an introduction to the parliament’s general history in the context of the new post-1999 parliament see his ‘A Brief History of an Ancient Institution: The Scottish Parliament’ in Scottish Parliamentary Review, vol. 1 (June 2013) 1-50, the text of which is available free at

For a full bibliography of Dr Alastair Mann’s research on the pre-1707 Scottish Parliament and contemporary politics and society, see the Bibliography and Links section.

Site originally designed and authored by Jack Fox Lloyd Mallon, @ University of Stirling, 2017