Back to list

Prehistoric and Modern Architecture Crumble as Medieval is Crowned King

2nd February 2016 | Categories: Lecture

6000 Years Press Release Image

As part of the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016, brochs, castles and even a high school went head-to-head at the National Museum of Scotland to determine a victor.

The prehistoric, medieval and modern eras were represented by three experts, who argued for the most important architectural innovations in Scotland’s past at the event entitled ‘6,000 Years of Architecture, Innovation and Design’. The final decision was then handed over to the audience, who were narrowly persuaded that medieval architectural design had been the most innovative in Scottish history.

With Prof. Karen Forbes from the University of Edinburgh as the chair, the battle began with prehistoric architecture represented by Dr Tanja Romankiewicz, a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow in Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh. Dr Romankiewicz selected structures such as the Rhiroy Broch in the Highlands and Orkney’s Skara Brae to defend her era. Medieval architecture was promoted by Prof. Richard Oram, Professor of Environmental and Medieval History at the University of Stirling, who used buildings such as Dunfermline Abbey and Linlithgow Palace to cement his victory. John Lowrey, Senior Lecturer in Architectural History at University of Edinburgh, then fought for modern architecture with buildings such as Edinburgh’s Royal High School and Cumbernauld Town Centre.

To see all the choices from the experts, and vote for your favourite, see the STV website here.

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said:

“6,000 Years of Architecture, Innovation and Design is a great example of the kind of amazing, one off events which can be enjoyed during this special themed year.  I’m sure it has inspired those who attended to go out and enjoy even more of Scotland’s outstanding built heritage.” 

“From textiles to technology, architecture to fashion and design, the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016 aims to shine the spotlight on our greatest assets and icons, as well as our hidden gems. This is our opportunity to showcase Scotland’s traditional and contemporary icons and our cutting-edge design to the world.”

The annual Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and National Museums Scotland joint-lecture has become a popular event, with Monday’s lecture selling out weeks in advance.

The Society of Antiquaries of Scotland regularly holds free events at the National Museum of Scotland, in addition to events in Glasgow, Inverness and Aberdeen. These events are open to everyone and the full programme is available at

Image credits: Dr Tanja Romankiewicz, Prof. Richard Oram and Ben Heathwood via / CC BY

National Museums Scotland logo Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016 logo Society of Antiquaries of Scotland seal


Help us to do more

Help us: champion research; stimulate discussion; enhance public understanding; and share our extraordinary heritage. Donate directly to the Society now.