Scotlands History

Burghs

A burgh is a self-governing town. Today 'burgh' is just a ceremonial title, but when first created the name brought special rights and powers. Burghs had the right to be represented at parliament, and each one had its own constitution or ‘Sett’, which detailed the powers that the king had granted to the burgh, and what duties it had promised to perform.

The Royal Burghs Act of 1183 set out rules regarding how a council should be structured and how elections should be carried out. These rules were applied equally to all burghs.

David I created the first Royal Burghs, beginning with Berwick. By 1130 the list of burghs had grown to include Stirling, Dunfermline, Aberdeen, Perth, Scone and Edinburgh.

  • Photo of an archway in a small chapel
Click on the image to view a larger version.