In this paper we explore the intertwined issues of improvement and community relations within the context of the Colony site, a nineteenth-century informal settlement in Scotland best known through caricatures of the poor and stereotypes of rural living. Drawing on a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research framework, a collaborative initiative involving academics and community researchers has begun rediscovering and rethinking the history of the Colony. Our investigations have established a rich and unexpected tapestry of life that played out at multiple scales of analysis according to a variety of issues. The settlement’s rise and fall was shaped by wider improvement processes impacting parts of Europe and beyond, but it is also an example of how outside influences were adopted locally, resisted and adapted; material conditions that played directly into the way community relations were themselves constituted. The lessons learned have implications for the archaeology of improvement and the study of informal communities on a global scale.
- informal communities
- Scottish rural settlement studies