School of History, Classics & Archaeology

Artisans and the Craft Economy in Scotland 1780-1914

This three year project, directed by Professor Stana Nenadic, takes a contemporary approach to craft, applied to Scotland, c. 1780-1914

This three year, Leverhulme Trust funded project, directed by Professor Stana Nenadic of the University of Edinburgh, takes a contemporary approach to craft, applied to Scotland, c. 1780-1914. It seeks to challenge conventional historiography in which modern industry destroyed the craft economy, replacing it with machine-made goods for the masses and craft-art for the moneyed few.

Using a combination of statistical survey, object biographies and illustrated house case studies, the project will demonstrate that the craft economy was not destroyed, though it changed over this period.


A particular focus of the project is analysis of the consumer contexts that sustained hand-making and the craft economy in Scotland, and the role played by craft in the material culture of 19th century rural and urban communities. Subjects include the contribution of craft workers to factory production, the Scottish Home Industries movement, craft at the interface of making and retailing, and the economic significance of exhibitions and display of Scottish craft in the 19th and early 20th centuries. A PhD, specifically examining Scottish jewellery production forms part of the project.

Interviews with contemporary craft workers provide ‘craft conversations’ between past and present practices, historical and contemporary craft preoccupations and economic considerations.

Project Researchers