By Andrew R C Simpson, Professor in Scots Private Law, School of Law, University of Aberdeen
Between 20th and 21st August 2019, in the wonderful setting of the Hardangerfjord in Norway, a group of scholars gathered to compare aspects of Norwegian and Scottish history and legal history. The seminar was organised by Professor Jørn Sunde, and generously supported by the Barony Rosendal and the Stiftinga Hardanger og Voss Museum. It approached comparison of the histories of Norway and Scotland by asking speakers to give papers on historical phenomena or themes that seemed – prima facie – to be common to both nations. For example, Dauvit Broun (Glasgow) and Erik Opsahl (Trondheim) were asked to speak on the Treaty of Perth of 1266, which was agreed between Norway and Scotland in the wake of conflict over the Hebrides. Other themes included the development of administrative structures in Scotland and Norway during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries; the development of apparently common town laws across both kingdoms; and migration across the North Sea and the regulation of trade (particularly in timber) between the two nations during the early modern period. The papers presented constituted a sufficiently illuminating exercise in comparative legal history as to merit publication in a volume. The result is the book Comparative Perspectives in Norwegian Legal History, Trade and Seafaring, 1200-1800, which is shortly to be published by Edinburgh University Press in the Edinburgh Studies in Law series.