Outsiders and the woods II: charcoal and tanbark

T. C. Smout, Alan R. MacDonald and Fiona Watson

in A History of the Native Woodlands of Scotland, 1500-1920

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print November 2004 | ISBN: 9780748612413
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653331 | DOI:
Outsiders and the woods II: charcoal and tanbark

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This chapter examines the degree of impact by the outsider and the external market on the Scottish woods. The native species of broadleaf trees, as a group, have always been far more numerous and widely distributed than the conifers, despite the attention given to Scots pine as quintessentially the Scottish tree and undisputed queen of the mythical Caledonian forest. However, whereas the attraction of Scots pine to the outside world was as building timber, broadleaf trees were mainly influenced through external markets by the demand for charcoal for smelting iron, and the demand for bark for tanning leather and hides. Oak was the preferred species for charcoaling and tanning, but a wide range of other species could be used if supplies of local oak were insufficient or unavailable. The chapter looks first at iron smelting with reference to the outside partnerships and firms involved in charcoal-fired blast furnaces from 1610 onwards, but considers tanbarking mainly in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries when external market forces were most evident.

Keywords: broadleaf trees; charcoal; iron smelting; bark; tanning

Chapter.  13464 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Regional and Area Studies

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