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A charter is a legal document that records the transfer of property. This document is a rare example of a mid-fourteenth century single-sheet Scottish land charter. Prior to the prominence of written records, a symbolic act had to be performed before witnesses to validate the exchange. For example, if the former owner gave a bit of soil from the piece of land to the new owner, that action provided visual proof of the changing of ownership and authorized the agreement.

A few years after the charter’s creation, the Black Death reached Scotland (1349), killing up to one-third of the population. Though the Plague was less widespread than in other areas of Europe, the balance of power still shifted in favour of the peasants. There were fewer people to farm the land after the Plague, so landowners—such as the newly-propertied Robert Erskine—had to pay peasant workers higher wages to retain their labour. This lead to the impoverishment of several noble households.

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