Geographically, Scotland is distinct from England. Its mountains, lochs and islands have long set apart Scotland from its neighbour, and rival. These geographical barriers kept the two politically separate; even after 1603, when ruled by the same monarch, Scotland maintained its own political and legal institutions. Similarly the Scottish Church is a distinct body. Like England, Scotland underwent the Reformation. However, the Scottish experience was more extreme. A more radical Protestantism was embraced, and an unparalleled wave of destruction was raged upon medieval Scottish churches. Perhaps, like its landscapes, Scotland’s people and history are more elemental, more dramatic.
This drama, of landscapes, peoples, and history, has melded Scottish architecture into a distinct form. Scottish buildings respond to their surroundings. Traditionally, they were often located on dramatic sites, fused to rocks and hills. Height has been striven for; and their profiles often match the surrounding jagged mountains. Whether tower houses, tenements, or tower blocks, all delight in effect from careful siting, sharp outlines and dizzying heights.
Contrasting to this, Scottish churches are peculiarly plain, low and often quite humble buildings. Again, though, these are distinct to Scotland: such geometric purity never became popular in England. Similarly, Scotland has produced some of the most idiosyncratic of architects. The work of the Adam brothers, Alexander ‘Greek’ Thompson and Charles Rennie Mackintosh relates to general trends in architecture. However, all created their own stylistic interpretations, often deliberately injecting traditional Scotch forms into their work. The result is a remarkable collection of buildings, worthy of close analysis and comparison with contemporary British, and European developments.