ABSTRACT

The pace of agriculture, and the face of the countryside in Scotland changed during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The Scottish farmer of 1500 would have found little that was radically new in the landscape of 1700. From the 1760s the rate of change accelerated rapidly and the last four decades of the eighteenth century saw the landscape of many parts of the Lowlands totally transformed. In one sense, agricultural improvement began with the decline of the tower house. After the Restoration it was fashionable to extend and remodel fortified houses into larger, more comfortable mansions and to build new, undefended country houses. With more winter fodder from the arable land there was increasing pressure to divide up the commonties between the various proprietors who had rights over them. The Agricultural Revolution in Lowland Scotland was a triumph of improved organisation and innovation but few mechanical inventions were involved. One, however, had an influence on the landscape: the threshing machine.