Production and the missing artefacts: Candles, oil and the material culture of urban lighting in early modern Scotland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The humble candle was a crucial part of life in the Scottish town, yet due to the nature of these objects, they do not survive in the material record, raising interesting questions about consumables as artefacts. Whilst the candles were used up long ago, considering the production of these objects in Scottish towns can tell us much about the material culture of nocturnal urban life, of which nearly everyone was a consumer. Moreover, the particular objects associated with candles and oil-lighting reflect subtle changes in both consumption and production. Whilst revolutionary changes did not appear prior to the eighteenth century, they point towards a society making the most of an antique technology, handed down from Europe’s Roman past. As ‘missing artefacts’ in the surviving material record, the importance of putting the material culture firmly in the context of the historical record comes sharply into focus and an integral part of the urban experience is illuminated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-53
Number of pages34
JournalReview of Scottish Culture
Volume23
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Keywords

  • Candles
  • Oil
  • Candlemakers
  • Craft Guilds
  • Incorporated Trades
  • Corporatism
  • Artisans
  • Lighting

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Production and the missing artefacts: Candles, oil and the material culture of urban lighting in early modern Scotland'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this