A Spatiotemporal Investigation into the Parish Boundaries of Fife, Scotland
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The parish boundaries of Scotland have an extensive history. While a number of previous studies have attempted to hypothesis their origin, little research has been undertaken to further an understanding of the spatial pattern they form or the motivation for their location. Contemporary scholars within the field of landscape archaeology have begun to identify the role of Geographical Information Science (GIS) as a tool for interpreting complex spatial relationships and unravelling the history behind ‘palimpsest’ like features. This paper applies GIS alongside ‘mereotopological’ theory and the associated typology of spatial boundaries based on the opposition between ‘bona fide’ and ‘fiat’ boundaries, in order to gain an insight into the spatial dynamics of parish boundaries in Fife, Scotland. An investigation into the association between physical features and parish boundaries reveals the presence of significant ‘bona fide’ portions, whereas the influence of human based decisions impacting boundary location is less conclusive. This leads to a discussion of whether ‘fiat’ boundaries are formed purely through the intrinsic joining of ‘bona fide’ parts or whether, in fact, features such as ‘pan-handles’ advocate a greater human influence.