This week (3-7 April 2017), the Research Institute of Irish and Scottish Studies (RIISS) was pleased to host Professor Jan Dumolyn (University of Ghent) as a visitor. Professor Dumolyn’s research is concerned with medieval Flanders, and he is the leading historian of medieval Bruges. His time in Aberdeen included meetings with various colleagues on campus, and visits to the University Library’s Special Collections Centre, the Aberdeen City & Aberdeenshire Archives, and the Maritime Museum.
Two seminars were held during the week. On 4 April Dr Claire Hawes of the LACR project presented a paper on ‘Politics and the Public Domain in Fifteenth-Century Scotland’, which led to a discussion of approaches to the study of political culture. Dr Hawes offered a fascinating new perspective on the political history of late medieval and early modern Scotland, suggesting a way forward that moves beyond the well-worn framework of crown-magnate relations. On 6 April Professor Jan Dumolyn spoke on ‘Commercial Connections between Flanders, Scotland and the Hanseatic world: An Interdisciplinary Approach’. Both these seminars prompted comment on a number of points of comparison between Scotland and other European territories in the later middle ages. The latter paper offered a view on the potential for collaboration between historians and archaeologists in the study of trade in bulk commodities, and in particular on how ballast stones can be a means to investigate commercial networks across the North Sea and Baltic Sea. The scope for tracing Scottish migrants in the rich records of Bruges was also touched upon, for example noting the Scottish shore porters of late medieval Bruges, and recalling the fact that the dialect word in that city for fish imported from Scotland was ‘aberdaan’.