Arrested Development? Energy Crises, Fuel Supplies, and the Slow March to Modernity in Scotland, 1450–1850


Through the period 1450–1850, Scottish record sources portray a protracted crisis regarding energy resources generally and the supply of fuel to urban centers specifically, despite the fact that, unlike many European states, Scotland was a relatively energy-rich environment. This article considers the various factors that hindered intensification of industrial activity and retarded national economic growth. Eventually the pressure of social and cultural factors encouraged abandonment of the use of an abundant and relatively cheap resource—peat—and promoted the use of a scarcer and more expensive alternative—coal.