Who Killed David Dun? Home Version

Twine game


By William Hepburn

In 2017 I designed an event called ‘Who Killed David Dun?’ at the first Granite Noir festival. At the event I presented a fictional murder mystery narrative based on historical evidence from the Aberdeen Council Registers. The twist was that the narrative was a piece of fiction where audience choices, decided by majority vote, guided the story, a bit like the recent ‘Bandersnatch’ episode of Black Mirror on Netflix and sharing one of its sources of inspiration – the interactive adventure books of the 1980s and 1990s such as the Fighting Fantasy series.

The story was built using the interactive fiction tool Twine. However, the game was made in a bespoke fashion for a live setting and consisted of a framework of choices on Twine shown on a projector, a script of the all the narrative branches read by me as the audience progressed through the story and paper handouts for the audience containing extracts from the medieval Aberdeen Council Registers. I have now integrated these elements so that the story can be played on a computer or (hopefully!) mobile device. The only element of the original event not carried over is a series of transcription challenges the audience had to pass to progress the narrative.

The game can be played in your web browser here.


Burgh records, literature and language: a report on The International Conference on Medieval and Renaissance Scottish Language and Literature (ICMRSLL), Glasgow, July 2017

By William Hepburn

ICMRSLL 2017 cropped

The ICMRSLL is a long-running conference focussed on Scottish culture in the medieval and early modern period. The centre piece of this iteration, to which delegates repeatedly turned in their discussions, was a plenary debate between Professor Sally Mapstone, representing literary scholarship, and professor Roger Mason, representing historians. Their discussion emphasised that in the scholarship on this period the boundary between their disciplines was blurred. This was underlined by the diversity of the papers given at the conference. Some were particularly relevant to the themes of the LACR project.

For example, in a panel focussing on Dunfermline, Klaus Hoffman and Emily Wingfield came from separate disciplinary directions but together offered a rounded portrait of the Fife burgh’s literate culture. Hoffman, with a background in linguistics and experience working with the town records of Austria and Scotland, offered a paper on the town clerks and scribes of Dunfermline from 1573-1723. His findings were based on a sample of their work extending to 55,000 words. Hoffman was able to identify the hands of town clerks through records of their election, as well as what seem to the hands of their assistants – a role trainee notaries public might occupy as part of their seven years of training. He said these clerks could be understood as a ‘community of practice’ – a network of writers engaged in a joint enterprise and using a shared repertoire. The dates of Hoffman’s study covered the period in which the Scots language became anglicised, and Hoffman’s study revealed Dunfermline to be about 25 years behind central records in terms of anglicisation, which he attributed to the close ties between the local network of Dunfermline clerks. Emily Wingfield’s paper looked at the literary culture of Dunfermline from which the writings of Robert Henryson – thought to have been a notary public – emerged. She argued that there was an extensive literary network centred on Dunfermline, highlighting evidence such as the Miraculae of St Margaret of Scotland, written in Dunfermline in the mid-thirteenth century and surviving in a copy produced in Dunfermline in the reign of James III; the furnishing of Dunfermline Abbey with books by the abbot Richard Bothwell in the mid-fifteenth century; and the connection of the Liber Pluscardensis to a network of notaries.

In another panel looking at Scottish burghs more broadly, Elizabeth Ewan and Rob Falconer offered, respectively, observations on flyting and restorative justice. Ewan said that records of insults in burgh records offer virtually the only evidence of the ordinary speech of ordinary Scots and that in many cases they give us women’s voices. As well as discussing the themes of insults thrown on the streets – such as disease, dishonesty and physical appearance – Ewan explored the relationship between the flyting of the streets and the flying of the literary world, arguing that the former must have influenced the latter, that street flyting could have drawn on literary flyting and that it took formalised and performative qualities. Rob Falconer’s paper argued that criminality was a fundamental part of social relations in burghs. With the metaphor of the body politic in common use, behaviour that damaged this body could be framed as disease or contagion. In this worldview, moral lapses were dangerous if left untreated. Treatment involved ‘curing’ or ‘purging’ the offender. This often took the form of restorative justice, which was about repairing the harm done by the crime and not just punishing the offender. Once this had been done the offender could be accepted back into society, but if the ‘contagion’ represented by such an individual was too severe it had to be purged through, for example, banishment.

My paper was entitled ‘The Common Book: Burgh Registers and Documentary Culture in Fifteenth-Century Aberdeen’. As elsewhere in Scotland, there was a pronounced materiality to the rituals that governed life in medieval Aberdeen, from the transfer of tokens of land ownership to the public shaming of transgressors such as those who had to present the knife with which they had committed an assault to their victims. This materiality was enhanced by the creation of records – objects which preserved the memory of other objects. It made particular sense in towns, where there was usually close proximity between people and property, the sites where business concerning them was transacted and the places where the written records of them were stored. A burgh archive which gathered together many records such could function as a symbol of the burgh community whatever the format in which it preserved documents, but by shrinking thousands of enactments of this relationship into a portable, easily-searchable artefact, it had particular power. The materiality of these artefacts – burgh registers, often called common books by contemporaries – may have increased the value placed in writing itself. Even those who could not read or write could have seen their power as symbols of the burgh community. Perspectives may have been shifted simply by the awareness that the burgh government had the memory of the town stored in physical form, in much the same the way as Brian Stock outlined when he argued that texts did not have to be present for people to think or behave as if they were. 1

My paper pointed towards administrative practices in burghs as one factor contributing towards the increasing use of the written word in late medieval Scotland. The other papers I have highlighted also pointed towards the significance of burghs and their records to Scottish language and literature as, for instance, centres of literary networks or inspiration for poetic flytings. The work of the Law in the Aberdeen Council Registers project will help to make the richest source from burghs in this period more accessible to scholars, offering the potential for new insights on the language and literature of late medieval Scotland amongst many other subjects.

  1. See for instance Brian Stock, The Implications of Literacy: Written Language and Models of Interpretation in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983). Thanks to Anne Rutten of the University of St Andrews, who presented on the consolidation of Stewart power through texts in the reigns of Robert II and III on the same panel as me at the ICMRSLL in Glasgow, for first directing me to the work of Stock. 

‘brokin folkis’ (1499)

By William Hepburn

'Brokin folkis' blog image

On 22 March 1499, Gilbert Litstar – a dyer – made a statement to the alderman and baillies of Aberdeen about dyed cloth in his possession which belonged to residents of the burgh and people from the country. He said that there were ‘certane brokin folkis’ watching in the night. According to the Dictionary of the Scots Language, ‘brokin’, when applied to people, meant being in an impoverished condition and living lawlessly as a consequence. More specifically, it often referred to ‘those having no proper feudal superior or chief, and living by violence and robbery’. The exact status of the ‘brokin folkis’ mentioned here is unclear but Gilbert Litstar clearly saw them as a great danger. He stated to the alderman and baillies that he and others stood on their feet watching over the goods by night. To avoid damage to the goods he asked Maunys the bellman to pass through the town and summon both dwellers of the town and the country who had goods to collect from Gilbert to come and get them within 24 hours. If they did not, stipulated Gilbert, and the goods were stolen or damaged, it would not be his responsibility.

This entry raises a number of interesting questions. How many clients did Gilbert Litstar have, and who were they? Why did he think that having the handbell rung through the town was a sufficient measure to warn both residents of the town as well as people in the country? Where was Gilbert Litstar keeping the goods, and why were they vulnerable? Who were the ‘brokin folkis’?


ACR, 7, p. 942, 22 March 1499

The saide day comperit Gilbert Litstar befor the aldirman and ballieis and exponit oppinlie and declarit how he hed certane littit clath pertening to induellaris of this burghe and to landmen and part of weddis and gagis Ande thar war certane brokin folkis wachand in the nicht and he and his folkis nychtlie stude one thar feit kepand the said gudis and for the eschevin of skathis he causit maunys bellman to pas throw the haill tone and be his handbell opinlie warnit and chargit ale and sindrie personis bath to burghe and land that hed ony clath or weddis with the sad gilbert to cum furthtwith and rede thar’ said clathis and weddis within xxiiij houris and protestand solemptlie gyf thai come nocht and the said clath or weddis happinnis as god forbad to be stollin or skatht that he be quyt and skathles tharof in tym to cum befor thir witnes sere Jhon Ruthirfurd aldirman Androw Cullan Richard Waus balyeis Johne Mar Patrik Andirsone James Colison Duncan Colison Johne Duncansone Philp Dumbrek.

(Some punctuation added and spelling modernised for readability.)

Plague and Quarantine in Aberdeen, 1499

By William Hepburn

Quarantine blog post image

This entry, from 21 June 1499, is one of several from the Aberdeen Council Registers concerning plague. It gives us clues about the town’s response to the disease. Part of this response was to set up two lines of quarantine around the town. The first was the physical boundary of the town. Aberdeen did not have an encircling city wall, so its physical boundary was made up by the town gates and the back walls of properties. This physical boundary on its own was apparently not enough to enforce a line of quarantine around the town, because people were able to jump or climb over the walls and gates. Further measures were put in place, including the employment of guards to watch the town at night and the offer of a reward to anyone who reported someone climbing or jumping the boundary. 1

The second line of quarantine covered the town’s hinterland. The entry states that no people or goods were allowed into the town from outside of a prescribed area surrounding it unless it could be proven that they were uninfected and came from an uninfected place. The entry appears to define that area as stretching from the river Dee on the southern edge of Aberdeen, out to St Ternan’s (modern-day Banchory) in the west, and from there up through Monymusk to Strathbogie (modern-day Huntly or, more broadly, the area around the river Strathbogie). The area was enclosed to the north by a line apparently set somewhere between there and Old Aberdeen to the north of Aberdeen.

In her 2001 thesis on plague in early modern Aberdeen, Karen Jillings argued that before 1514 the town largely escaped the plague.2 Measures such as the ones described in this entry may have helped to keep the plague out.


ACR, 7, p. 963-4, 21 June 1499

Statuta pro Custodia burgi

The saide day It was statut ordanit ande finalie concludit be the aldirman balyeis consale ande communite of this burghe opinlie warnit be the hande bell and officiaris throw the haill tone that nay manere of persone wittalis nor uthir stuf beyonde and one the southt part of the wattir of dee cum within this burghe without sufficient certificacion that thai ar clene and cumin fra clene placis. Item that nay persone off nay degre bevne Sanct Ternanys Monymusk Srabogy nor northt part wart fra ald Abirdene cum within this burghe and that the said personis cum nocht within the tone withoutin sufficient certificacion that thai ar cumin fra clen placis and that thai ar clene. Item that xxiiij personis circualy requerit and warnit personaly pas ilkan nycht to the waching of the tone and that ilke man pas for him self undir the panys of banysing. And that nane Induellar of this towne pas uteuthe to faris. Ande that nay tymmir cum within the tone. And that nane leip dikis portis nor cum in atour ony uthir place the portis vndir the pane of bannysin the tone and quhay findis ony persone lepand ony port or bak dik and schevis to the aldirman the name of the persone he sal haue v s’ to his revarde and that nay tymmir cum within this burghe.

  1. In a recent blog post Edda Frankot highlighted another reward for preventing infection from entering the town. In 1456-7  a man named Alexander Logy was made a burgess as reward a reward for preventing infected people from entering the town at the Green. 
  2. Karen Jillings, ‘For the safte and preservatioun of the toun’: Plague and the Poor in Early Modern Aberdeen (unpublished doctoral thesis, University of Aberdeen, 2002). 

Forbidden beasts and where to keep them

By William Hepburn

Forbidden Beasts ACR entry for blog post

Late medieval towns were distinct from the countryside around them because of their special legal status and their concentration of buildings. But all Scottish medieval towns were small by modern standards and late medieval records frequently remind us how blurred the boundary was between urban and rural life.

Nothing better represents this blurred boundary than the livestock kept in and around towns, which were frequently the subject of urban legislation. Aberdeen, for instance, seems to have had recurring problems with pigs roaming free around the town. These animals were referred to as ‘forboddin bestis’. In June 1465 it was ordained that the baillies would choose four men to capture any pigs causing trouble to people or running loose on the streets. These pig catchers either had to take their porcine prisoners to the master of the ‘kirk werk’ – the official in charge of building work at St Nicholas Kirk, the parish church – for a reward of 6 d. for each pig. Alternatively, they could kill the pigs where they found them and take the carcasses as rewards.

In October 1495 a similar ordinance was issued. It stated that no pigs were to be loose in the town, giving a fifteen-day deadline for pigs to be put in enclosures or removed from the town. For any pigs found loose after this point the owners would have to pay a fine of 8 shillings to the court and the pig would be confiscated from them.

Another royal burgh on the east coast of Scotland – Montrose – issued a flurry of similar legislation in 1459 and 1460.1 It was set down in April 1459 that there would be a fine of 4 d. for each time a pig was found loose and, in October of the same year, that no one was to keep pigs in the town and if they did the pigs would be confiscated. In May 1460 it was also stated that anyone who suffered damage from a loose pig was to bring it before the alderman or bailles and half of the value of it would go to them and the other half to the common use of the town. One entry also lists a fine to be paid for disobeying swine keepers – presumably officials charged with making sure that people kept their pigs under control.

Pigs were not the only livestock to be found in and around towns. A record of a court case from Aberdeen in 1499 shows that Janet Clat and Jock Lammyntone were convicted of breaking down Andrew Gall’s door and taking sheep from his house. In Newburgh, Fife, in 1463 the baillie Thom Rogerson made an accusation that sheep kept by other townspeople were eating crops.2 In Montrose in 1462 keepers of the links were appointed to keep livestock out of the area – sheeps, pigs and oxen – and fines for animals found there were listed. Another entry from 1462 shows that Montrose had a common shepherd.

Animals, then, were a recurring theme of fifteenth-century urban legislation and the damage they might cause to property – and perhaps also to public health – was clearly regarded as far from trivial. These records leave us with the impression that medieval Scottish towns were, in some ways, much like farmyards.

Transcriptions from Aberdeen Council Registers (ACR)

ACR, 5, p. 549, 24 June 1465

Item the chawmerlane has ordanyt the four bailyeis to cheis four men to tak all swyne that thai fande lows utow bande in ony mannis scathe or gangande on the gate and present thaim to the maystir of the kirk werke. And thai sal hafe for thair travaile of ilke swyne vj d’ or ellis sla thaim quhar thai finde thaim lous’ and tak the bodijs til eschete to thaim that slays thaim for thai ar forboddin bestis

ACR, 7, p. 670, 9 October 1495

The saide day it was statut ande ordanit be the consale that nay swyne salbe haldin within the burgh uteuth’ bande ande within fiftene dais to be removit the burgh or in bande. Ande the Joysaris of the saide swyne to pay viij s’ for the amerciament of the court and the saide swyne to be eschet and thaj be comprehendit uteuthe bande the saide fiftene dais beinge runnyn thaj beand fundin in ony mannis skath

ACR, 7, p. 953, 6 May 1499

The samyn day Jonet Clat was convikit be ane suorne assis Alexander Red forspekar for the wranguys away takin of certane scheip out of Androu Gallis hous and for the brekin of his dur for the quhilkis scho was in ane amerciament of the court and to amend as law wil and to forber in tyme to cum. Ande Jok Lammytone was convikit be the saide assis, the saide alexander Rede forspekar, for the wranguis takin of certan schep out of the saide hous and brekin of the sad dur as saide is et cetera

The saide day Jonet Clat and Jok Lammyntone was convikit tbe the saide assis Alexander Rede forspekar for the away takin of Certan Schep fra Androw Gall this day takin in his corne for the quhilkis thai war in ane amerciament of the court et cetera

  1. All Montrose references from Montrose Burgh Court Book 1455-1467, National Records of Scotland, B51/10/1. 
  2. Newburgh Burgh Court Book 1457-1479, University of St Andrews Special Collections, B54/7/1. 

Who Killed David Dun?

Who killed David Dun event

‘Who Killed David Dun?’ was an event held at the Aberdeen Town House on 26 February 2017 as part of the Granite Noir festival. Granite Noir was Aberdeen’s first book festival dedicated to crime fiction. When the Law in the Aberdeen Council Registers (LACR) project was asked to take part and create an event for the festival, the first problem that sprang to mind was that the chief subject of crime fiction – murder – was barely evident in the Aberdeen Council Registers which sit at the heart of the project. Murder did not lie within the jurisdiction of the burgh courts recorded in the registers.

What the registers do contain, however, is abundant evidence of disagreements and conflict – often violent – between inhabitants of the medieval town. As we transcribed volume 5 of the Aberdeen Burgh Registers one name seemed to come up with unusual frequency in relation to disturbances of the peace – David Dun. In the office we imagined why David Dun might have fought with other townspeople so often. Though there is nothing to suggest David Dun was murdered, with so many potential enemies he seems like someone who plausibly could have been murdered. I decided to build the LACR contribution to Granite Noir around the fictional murder of David Dun.

David Dun game Shiprow screenshot

As well as placing the LACR event firmly within the theme of the festival, this fictional murder offered a hook on which to hang many insights gleaned from real historical sources. It also provided the driving force for an interactive narrative which would allow the audience to engage directly with the historical sources which form the basis of our work as a research project. The event was designed to function much like interactive books such as the Choose Your Own Adventure or Fighting Fantasy series. The audience was presented with choices and had to decide by majority vote which path the narrative took. Along the way they encountered people, locations and events which were all based on evidence from the Aberdeen Council Registers. They had to look out for clues to help them work out who had killed David Dun. This interactive narrative was built using the open source interactive fiction tool Twine.

Transcription challenge

One challenge in creating the game was to find a way of directly engaging audiences with the historical records. To do so I decided that the character that the audience collectively played would be the town clerk. During the game, the town clerk consulted the Aberdeen Council Registers to cross reference evidence from them with evidence gathered from events and conversations in the narrative. Using the conceit that the town clerk was new and struggled with the writing of previous town clerks, the game included transcription challenges that needed to be passed to ‘unlock’ the relevant evidence from the register. These challenges involved showing actual passages from the registers and asking audiences to try to identify certain words in the fifteenth-century script. Once they had done so they could read translated passages from the registers which offered clues about the identity of the murderer.

In this way, the structure of the game allowed the audience to get a taste of the palaeography and source analysis work carried out by the LACR project – experiences which can normally only be accessed through specialist knowledge and training. It also underlined to the audience that most historical records were not just repositories of information made to be accessed by future generations. Rather, they were actively used in the period in which they were created. For example, records were brought forward as evidence to help resolve medieval court cases. The use of records as evidence to help solve the murder in the game was intended to reflect the active role of written records in medieval Aberdeen.

The event was well-attended and the audience successfully identified the killer of David Dun! Attendees also had the opportunity to inspect one of the original UNESCO-recognised Aberdeen Burgh Registers, which was kindly put on display by Phil Astley (partner of the LACR project and City Archivist for Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives). In a question session at the end the audience asked insightful questions about the Aberdeen Council Registers and the medieval town. The event was a rewarding experience for me. It made me think about medieval Aberdeen in new ways and revealed some interesting connections between different pieces of evidence from the registers. I would like to thank Lee Randall of Granite Noir and Phil Astley for the opportunity to take part in the festival.

Explorathon 16′: Pirates, plunder and shipwreck


Have you ever wondered what a medieval pirate was like? Join us at the Aberdeen Maritime Museum on Friday 30 September from 12:30-1:30 to find out!

The event is part of Explorathon 16′ (http://www.explorathon.co.uk/Aberdeen) and is described on their website:

‘Aberdeen was a European economic hub centuries before the discovery of oil but frequently upset its continental neighbours by turning a blind eye to piracy. Join members of the Law in the Aberdeen Council Registers project team for an exploration of the darker side of medieval overseas trade, and an overview of exciting new work that is unlocking the City’s UNESCO-recognised ancient records.’

On the day Edda Frankot will transport us back to the world of piracy and seafaring around medieval Aberdeen and ask the audience to step into the shoes of those making legal judgements about cases of shipwreck. Jackson Armstrong will highlight the international significance of the rich records of medieval Aberdeen which allow us to find out about this maritime world. William Hepburn will show what the handwriting in these records looks like and how we can decipher it. Anna Havinga will look at the language of the records and invite the audience to interpret old Scots words.

So, if you want to know more about pirates, plunder and shipwreck as well as the exciting research underway on Aberdeen’s medieval records, join us this Friday!

The event is free and suitable for ages 12 and over. Booking is required and can be done here: http://www.abdn.ac.uk/events/booking/pirates-plunder-and-shipwrecks-from-aberdeens-medieval-archives-explorathon16-127.php


Black money in Aberdeen (1488)

ACR, 7, p. 57 (14 April 1488)

by William Hepburn

ACR 7 p. 57

1488 was an eventful year in Scotland. King James III faced the second major rebellion of his reign, led by a group of aggrieved noblemen using his teenage son Prince James as a figurehead. After a skirmish at Sauchieburn near Stirling the king was killed in unknown circumstances and his son was crowned as James IV. There is little evidence of these dramatic events in the Aberdeen burgh register entries for that year, which focus on the ongoing affairs of people in and around the town. In amongst this material, however, lies evidence for the widespread impact of one of James III’s most unpopular policies which, in combination with a range of other grievances, provoked some of the king’s subjects into rebelling against him.1

Between 1480 and 1482 James III’s government introduced a form of debased currency known as black money, which was essentially a type of coin with the same face value as existing coins but made from lower-quality metal. According to a contemporary chronicle these coins, along with the war between Scotland and England ‘causyt baitht hungar and derth and mony pure folk deit of hunger’. This crisis led to black money being ‘cryit downe’ in 1482, meaning that it effectively lost its status as legal tender. The outcry against the black money appears to have been a contributing factor to the first major rebellion against James III.2


A Crux Pellit penny – part of the black money of 1480-82 (Wikimedia Commons)

Elizabeth Gemmill and Nicholas Mayhew discovered many entries about black money in the Aberdeen Burgh Registers from around 1482, when the issue of the currency and its swift denunciation led to a flurry of litigation in the Aberdeen courts. They noted that cases involving black money continued into 1485 but that the issue was ‘essentially short-lived’.3 One entry, however, appears to suggest that its effects were still being felt in Aberdeen as late as 1488.4 It records one of the matters dealt with in a head court held before the baillies of Aberdeen in the tolbooth on 14 April of that year:

‘The samyn day Jhone of Culane Alexander Menyeis ande Jhone Wormet oblist thaim be the fathis of thar bodiis lelely and treulie to content and pay to the men of Danskin for the want of ther silver in tyme of the blak money in lentryne wair ande futvale penny and penny worthis for siclik price as fremmit mene may by it for reddy silver in hand fra merchandis of the toune.’5

Like many of the entries about black money from closer to the time of its demonetisation in 1482, this entry concerns the settling of debts which were complicated by the use of black money in a transaction.6 In this case, ‘men of Danskin’ (Danzig, modern-day Gdansk) were reimbursed by three Scottish merchants (John of Cullen, Alexander Menzies and John Wormet) for a debt incurred ‘in tyme of the black money’. The Scots were to settle the debt by handing over sheepskins (‘lentryne wair’, ‘futvale’) equal to its value.

The only other known issue of black money in James III’s reign was coined in the late 1460s.7 However, it seems that the 1488 entry refers to the 1480-82 coinage rather than this earlier issue.8 The earlier coinage was far less controversial and no trace of it can be found in the historical record for the 1470s, suggesting that it may have fallen out of use by that point.9 Also, the phrase ‘in tyme of the black money’ appears to refer to a well-known episode such as the notorious second issue of the coinage. 10

If the entry does refer to the infamous black money of 1480-82, what is its significance? It would be the latest-known contemporary reference to a legal case concerned with the repercussions of the 1480-82 black money issue in Scotland’s public records, showing that while this issue was largely dealt with in swift fashion, some of the problems it caused were still being resolved as late as six years after the event. Perhaps ‘the men of Danskin’ had returned to Aberdeen for the first time since they were paid in black money and took the opportunity to pursue the issue in the burgh court. Further work on the Aberdeen burgh registers may reveal more echoes of the black money crisis of 1482. It could even uncover evidence which sheds more light on this specific case.

More broadly, it links local, national and international history. Here is a case of a local court dealing with the effects of a reckless royal policy on international merchants. It demonstrates the capacity of these records to reveal detailed evidence about the affairs of Aberdeen as well providing a unique perspective on the impact of royal government and the links between Scotland and the wider world.


Seventeenth-century portrait of James III (Wikimedia Commons)

Lastly, there is a kind of poetic symmetry to this case taking place in 1488. Two months later, James III died at the battle of Sauchieburn on 11 June. After the battle, hoards of treasure belonging to the king were found in Edinburgh and in chests abandoned on the field – treasure which may have been amassed, at least in part, as a result of stowing away coins made of precious metals which he swapped out for the debased black money.11 If the fatal skirmish at Sauchieburn was a lightning strike at the heart of the storm created by James III’s reckless approach to kingship, the case of the black money cleared up by the magistrates of Aberdeen was a raindrop at its outer edge.

  1. Norman Macdougall, James III (Edinburgh: John Donald, 2009), pp.346-51, 359-68. 
  2. Elizabeth Gemmill and Nicholas Mayhew, Changing Values in Medieval Scotland: A Study of Prices, Money, and Weights and Measures (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), p. 126; Macdougall, James III, pp. 183, 185. 
  3. Gemmill and Mayhew, Changing Values, p. 127. 
  4. It was also still affecting the Scottish crown’s financial administration, when a case involving payment of black money to the Comptroller was addressed in 1487 – Gemmill and Mayhew, Changing Values, p. 127. 
  5. Minor changes have been made to the text to aid readability 
  6. Gemmill and Mayhew, Changing Values, p. 127. 
  7. Gemmill and Mayhew, Changing Values, p. 125. 
  8. Other debased coins, known as billon placks, were used in James III’s reign but Joan Murray insisted that there are ‘strong reasons against identifying the billon placks as part of the black money’ – Joan E. L. Murray, ‘The Black Money of James III’ in British Archaeological Reports, 45 (1977), pp. 115-130 (p. 119). 
  9. Gemmill and Mayhew, Changing Values, p. 125. 
  10. The same phrase was used in a passage identified by Joan Murray as referring to the 1480-82 black money from a record of a case heard before the lords of council in 1482 – Murray, ‘Black Money’, p. 117. 
  11. Norman Macdougall, James IV (Edinburgh: John Donald, 1989), p. 51; Macdougall, James III, p. 186.